Texas Governor Rick Perry opened up his remarks at the RedState Gathering in Fort Worth with a bit of history mixed with current events, saying: “When a tyrannical king in a distant land used the power of oppression – we rebelled. When Texians suffered under the very oppressive injustice – we rebelled. Thomas Jefferson was right when he said ‘rebellion now and then is a good thing.’ And now faced with another power-hungry oppressive ruler in a faraway place it’s time for us to start a little rebellion. “
Sticking to his message of states’ rights and adherence to the 10th amendment, and of course, talking about his record as governor of Texas, Perry said “The founders knew the government closest to the people was best. For our Republic to remain strong, we had to a lot the states to be innovators.”
In a sign his speech wasn’t just for the audience here at RedState, Perry went on to speak about the environment. It is a topic rarely discussed at an event made up of grassroots conservative activists – more evidence that he is considering another presidential run. “[Texas has] been an example. When it comes to jobs, they try to force us in to a false dichotomy that we must choose between a growing economy and a healthy environment. While leading the country in job creation we have also managed to lower our nitrogen oxide levels by 62%. Our ozone levels by 23%, significantly better than the national average Once again proof states know what’s best for states.”
With his typical Texas bravado, Perry added “You know I brag about Texas… but frankly we have a lot to be proud of. Since I became governor, Texas has created 35% of all new private sector jobs in this country…by using common sense red state principles. As of January, [Texas] has led the nation high-tech exports surpassing California and the Silicon Valley.” A line sure to be aimed largely at the perception that Texas is only adding minimum wage jobs – a consistent, yet false, attack by the Democrats both in Texas and nationally.
With over 1,000 people moving to Texas every day, the risk to state politics is – are they bringing their political ideology with them that will change the state from red to blue, or are they seeking the magnet of conservative governance that Texas offers? It’s a question that was addressed at the end of Perry’s speech when an audience member asked, “Since you are inviting citizens of blue states to move to your state and other red states because of how well they are being run, I think you might want to mention it to them that it was it was their past voting habits that got their state in trouble and as they change states to also change their voting habits.”
Perry’s sharp response drew the loudest laughs, “If you want to live in a state that has very high onerous taxes, a regulatory climate that is onerous, and schools that are being run by unions rather than by parents who have the best interest [of the children,] then you are free to live in California. One of the reasons you see those companies relocate … they have made it so onerous and they have had to have alternatives. People who are to states like Texas are givers and not takers. They are relocating because they want to live where freedom reigns. They are coming here because they respect and really like our polices and not because they want to come here and change this state back to what they left.”
This is a venue that Governor Perry knows well, having used the RedState Gathering in 2011 to kick off his run for the Republican Presidential Nomination – a journey many believe he will take again this time around. His speech certainly did not keep those in the room from disagreeing. As one attendee from Pennsylvania said to the governor during the question and answer period, “If someone like you should happen to run for president, the message you delivered today would resonate [in Pennsylvania.] Ronald Reagan won Pennsylvania twice. When Bush 41 ran as a Reagan Republican, he won. I think Rick Perry would do well in Pennsylvania too.”
But first, Perry has to do well in Iowa and New Hampshire.