Perry's comeback message has been lost in recent weeks as the political interest shifted to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. But this conference was Perry's chance to reset the table before the conservative base and the national press after his disastrous 2012 bid.
Perry spoke Friday morning, following Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Perry held the crowd with withering criticisms of President Obama's foreign policy.
“Here’s the simple truth about our foreign policy: Our allies doubt us and our adversaries are all too willing to test us," he said.
Throughout the conference, contenders appeared in question-and-answer formats or pacing the stage like lawyers addressing a jury. Perry opted for a no-frills podium speech focused on the Middle East.
As has been his style this early campaign, Perry peppered his speech with foreign and domestic policy nuances, intended to show off his knowledge and repair the bad impression he made on the national audience in 2012 with his “Oops” comment.
The sleepy, early-morning CPAC crowd began to respond to Perry as his speech concluded by comparing Obama to Jimmy Carter.
“The weakness and incompetence of our government shouldn’t be confused with the strength, the ingenuity and the idealism of the American people,” he said.
“You think about it. We’ve survived worse," he added. "We had a civil war in this country. We had two world wars. We had a Great Depression. We even survived Jimmy Carter. We will survive the Obama years, too!”
Also, Perry spent part of the conference criticizing a member of his own party, Walker, who equated union workers with the Islamic State group (ISIS) in his own CPAC address.
“I think trying to make the connection between ISIS and unions was a mistake,” Perry told MSNBC on Thursday. “These are Americans you are talking about…To try to make the relationship between [ISIS] and the unions is inappropriate.”
The Perry national push will continue into the weekend. He is scheduled to appear on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday morning.