NEW ORLEANS — Texas Gov. Rick Perry offered no hints about his presidential plans during a speech here Saturday, but he did lay out much of what would be a very conservative platform for a potential run.
Speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference, Perry offered a strikingly different message from previous speakers, telling conservatives in the audience not to settle for anything less than unapologetic conservatism — particularly on the issue of abortion.
“It saddens me when sometimes my fellow Republicans duck and cover in the face of pressure from the left,” he said, adding: “Our party cannot be all things to all people. It can’t be. Our loudest opponents on the left are never going to like us, so let’s stop trying to curry favor with them.”
Previously, speakers including Mississippi governor Haley Barbour made impassioned calls for voters to be pragmatic and accept Republican candidates whom they may not agree with on 100 percent of issues.
Perry, though, has made a name for himself in recent years by firing up the base, as when he defeated the less-conservative Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) in his reelection primary last year.
With so many big-name candidates passing on the presidential race this year, attention has turned to Perry, who after repeatedly saying he’s not interested in running, is now taking steps towards doing just that. An official decision is due in coming weeks.
The other aspect of Perry’s platform is a call for the states take over many of the powers and functions currently vested in the federal government.
“Our goal is to displace the entrenched powers in Washington, restore the right balance between state and federal government,” Perry said, adding: “We now live in this strange, inverted version of what our founders intended.”
Perry also played up his performance as governor, noting that Texas’s economy and job market is growing far faster than other states.
Her attributed that to the brand of unapologetic conservatism that he espouses.
“That’s what happens with conservative leadership that is willing to take a little beating from the liberal media,” Perry said.
Perry was the star of the conference, with so many other big names in the presidential race not appearing. The audience gave a rousing ovation when the public address announcer began to introduce what people thought was Perry — it turned out to actually be the man introducing Perry. And by the end of his speech, the crowd chanted “Run, Rick, run,” for more than a full minute.