Perry Plays to Hometown Crowd at AFP Summit in Dallas

by Eliana Johnson

Americans for Prosperity may be focused on promoting free-market economic policies, but Texas governor Rick Perry’s speech to the crowd at the organization’s annual “Defending the Dream” summit cast a much wider net.

President Obama, the Texas economy, foreign policy, and the influx of Central American children on the southern border all got the Perry treatment and his remarks, which ran nearly 20 minutes, offered a preview of the sort of stump speech he’ll deliver across the country if he decides to make another run for president, in 2016. 

He strode to the podium to the tune of “God Blessed Texas,” and his remarks were infused with his own brand of Texas bravado. The hometown crowd, 3,000 strong, many of them clad in some sort of American-flag paraphernalia, was receptive. Perry predicted that Republicans would reclaim control of the Senate in November and that, when the Republican majority is sworn in, Obama will have a “little appointment” with “constitutional limits.” 

“When an American president is constantly exceeding his constitutional authority, it doesn’t do wonders for bipartisan spirit,” Perry said. 

The governor was indicted last week on charges that he abused his power and he spent much of his time pressing the importance of constitutional government. He praised the work of Republican governors like Iowa’s Terry Branstad and South Carolina’s Nikki Haley, who he said have successfully cut taxes, controlled spending, and promoted job growth. Perhaps coincidentally, both Branstad and Haley are governors of early-primary states; left unmentioned were Perry’s potential rivals in a 2016 Republican primary: Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, Ohio governor John Kasich, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, and Indiana governor Mike Pence, who addressed a smaller group at the conference earlier on Friday.

The governor told the crowd, which packed the ballroom of the city’s Omni hotel, that defending the border was “not a political option but a constitutional obligation.” He received whoops and cheers at the mere mention of his decision to send National Guard troops to the Texas border. 

Conspicuously absent from Perry’s remarks: any mention of Hillary Clinton. 

He left the stage as “God Blessed Texas” blared again. The chorus: ”Well I’ve been sent to spread the message, God blessed Texas.” If Perry has any say, it appears he’ll be spreading his gospel much wider. 

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