It's Official: Rick Perry Is Running For President

Texas governor Rick Perry declared Saturday that he's entering the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Perry spoke at the Red State Gathering conference in Charleston, S.C. WFAE's Julie Rose reports.

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JOHN YDSTIE, host: Governor Perry made his announcement at a conference of conservative activists yesterday.

Julie Rose records from Charleston, South Carolina.

JULIE ROSE: He's a gun-toting, boot-wearing, God-fearing, snappy-dressing, career politician, but Governor Perry introduced himself to the Presidential race this way:

Governor RICK PERRY: I stand before you today as the Governor of Texas. But I also stand before you, the son of two tenant farmers.

ROSE: On the farm he learned to work hard and pinch pennies. In the Governor's office...

PERRY: We balanced our budget, not by raising taxes, but by setting priorities and cutting government spending.

ROSE: And that's his plan for the country - along with repealing President Obama's signature Healthcare Law. All of which strikes a chord with Pennsylvania conservatives Bob Sklaroff and Bob Guzzardi who were attending the conference.

BOB SKALROFF AND BOB GUZZARDI: We are, The Bob. Two minds, one voice. Rick Perry's the guy. His jobs record, states rights and we see that Perry has delivered for years as a governor.

ROSE: Texas has created more jobs than any other state since the end of the recession in 2009, but the Obama campaign calls Perry's economic record a tall tale. High energy prices are a boon for oil-rich Texas.

Perry says, if elected, he'll lower taxes, limit regulation and put a stop to frivolous lawsuits.

PERRY: This president and his big spending, big government policies has prolonged our national misery, not alleviated it.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

ROSE: Many conservatives, like Tabitha Hale, with the Tea Party group FreedomWorks, thinks Perry fills an important gap in the Republican field. She's still undecided, but...

TABITHA HALE: I think a lot of people are waiting for one person that can not only get the Tea Party vote, but can also get middle-of-the-road Republicans.

ERICK ERICKSON: I think Rick Perry could be the guy to get traction.

ROSE: That's Erick Erickson, the founder of the influential conservative blog RedState.com. Erickson likes Perry a lot, but he and others say the candidate has some weaknesses. For example...

PHYLLIS NEMETH: My big concern with him is his stand on illegal immigration.

ROSE: Phyllis Nemeth is from Arcadia, California. Perry has called the border-fence idiocy and supports giving in-state tuition to undocumented students. Another factor that may trouble some voters is the easy comparison between Perry and his fellow Texan and former boss, George W. Bush. And then there are the half-serious-sounding statements Perry has made in support of Texas seceding from the union. Perry says he's a proud American, but wants to put the federal government in its place.

PERRY: I'll work everyday to try to make Washington, D.C. as inconsequential in your life as I can.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE AND CHEERING)

ROSE: First though, Perry needs to make up for lost time. He went straight from South Carolina to New Hampshire last night. Today he's due in Iowa, a day late for the straw poll. But nearly six months ahead of the caucuses that begin the actual nominating process.

For NPR News, I'm Julie Rose in Charleston.

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