DALLAS, Texas — Today at Americans for Prosperity’s Defending the American Dream Summit, Texas Governor Rick Perry delivered a speech that was widely viewed by the audience as a prelude to his presumed 2016 presidential campaign.
AFP President Tim Phillips introduced Perry to an energized, standing-room only crowd. Referencing Perry’s recent indictment, Phillips noted that “the left has never been able to defeat Rick Perry at the ballot box,” mentioning how the same type of liberal politicians who had turned the IRS into a political movement were now turning the courts into a weapon of attack. Phillips declared, “At AFP we want to make something crystal clear: We stand with Rick Perry!” as Perry came out to a standing ovation as “God Blessed Texas” blared from the speakers.
The glasses absent from his now-famous mugshot were back as Perry grinned at the friendly crowd. “It’s an honor to be here among so many public servants,” said Perry, referring to the grassroots activists in the audience.
Unsurprisingly, Perry had harsh words for the Obama administration, but was optimistic about Republicans’ chances to retake control of Congress after this fall’s elections. “The bad news…we’ve got 29 months left of President Barack Obama,” he said. “[But] the good news is there’s 180 days left until a new Congress convenes with a Republican House and a Republican Senate.” Perry called November “the last chance to pass judgment on the Obama administration,” and looked forward to the President “get[tin] a little taste of checks and balances.”
Perry then addressed the overreach of executive authority by the Obama administration. “That constitutional law background has worked out in an interesting way,” he said, referring to Obama’s brief career as a Harvard law professor, noting the “twenty times he has been stopped in his tracks by the United States Supreme Court.” Perry viewed this executive overreach as damaging to the ability of government to function, saying that for a president to be constantly exceeding constitutional authority “doesn’t exactly do wonders for the bipartisan spirit…we still have two elected branches of government in this country. Despite the seeming inconveniences of it, we still love democracy in this country.”
Quoting Thomas Paine — “The duty of a patriot is to protect his country from his government” — Perry commented that federal overreach had become a “regular feature” of the Obama administration in many areas, and the American people needed to stand up against it. “When they trample on the rule of law, it is time for them to go.”
In a theme familiar from many of his past speeches, Perry expressed his admiration for the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. “The states are the laboratories of innovation and democracy, we need to unleash that…just take the best ideas and put them to work, [and] make Washington as inconsequential in our lives as possible.” Perry added, “In Texas, we actually do pretty well without Washington’s advice.”
Turning to his favorite subject — the Texas economic miracle — Perry pointed out that “our recipe is pretty simple” low taxes, reducing and simplifying regulations, don’t allow runaway litigation, and keep schools accountable. Perry rattled off several well-known statistics about the Texas economy, such as job growth nearly three times that of other large states. Texas is leading the nation not just in exports, but as of January, in high tech exports as well.
Perry mentioned how many people were moving to Texas for the jobs, cracking a joke: “Y’all are witness to the fact that they’re not moving here because of the weather.”
He also gave praise to some of his fellow Republican Governors who cut taxes and “who trust people before the machinery of the state”: Rick Scott of Florida (“his policies have led to significant declines in unemployment every month for 3 years”), Terry Branstad of Iowa, and Nikki Haley of South Carolina,
Perry then turned to the border crisis, which he characterized as a crisis that is “entirely within the power of the president,” but unfortunately there was “a willful neglect of clear presidential authority.” Perry voiced frustration over Obama’s continuous refusal to act to secure the border, while he was ever so willing to exceed his constitutional authority to undermine America’s immigration laws with broad grants of amnesty.
Perry had invited the President to visit the border when Obama was in Texas earlier this year “on a very vital presidential trip to help needy Texas Democrats,” Perry explained. Clearly Perry was speaking to the fundraisers that occupied most of his time while he was in our state. Obama declined Perry’s invitation, infamously remarking that he “doesn’t do photo opps.” Perry cracked that this “was news to all those photographers on his staff,” but then expressed his anger over a president who was “uninformed, unaware of the true situation on the border…[which was] a direct consequence of his policies.”
Perry reminded the audience that the unaccompanied minor children who were getting the media attention were only about 20 percent of those crossing the border illegally, and praised the Border Patrol agents who were “doing their level best,” but were just “overwhelmed” by the scale of the current surge of illegal immigrants.
The Governor got another standing ovation at his mention of deploying the National Guard to the border, saying that he was inspired to take action after hearing too many stories like that of Javier Vega, a Border Patrol agent who was shot and killed in front of his family, allegedly by two criminal aliens who had a long history of being arrested and deported multiple times.
“Defending the border is not a political option, it is a constitutional obligation,” declared Perry, rejecting any discussion of immigration reform without securing the border. “All talk of immigration reform is pointless [without first securing the border], because Washington has no credibility on the matter.”
Perry’s indignation continued regarding Obama’s foreign policy, remarking that Obama saying he has no strategy to deal with ISIS was sadly not a surprise to our allies, who have been left vulnerable by American weakness. “ISIS is not the junior varsity,” said Perry, “it is a clear and present danger to the free world.” The rise in unrest and violence around the world, including the Middle East and the Ukraine, was proof, according to Perry, that “the world needs [an American] president that is not playing catch up.” Perry’s disdain was clear when he dismissed Obama’s foreign policy as nothing more than “presidential wishes,” lacking any believable action behind them.
Perry finished his speech by honoring the military, generations of whom have paid the “great price” for our freedom. Several years ago, the Governor traveled to Normandy with his father, who had not seen it since 1944. Perry movingly described how the gravestones of fallen American service members all face to the west. They are turned towards America, “to the America they defended, to the America they would never return to.”
“Today they look on us in silent judgment,” added Perry. “Today we must ask if we are worthy of their sacrifice…[have we] learned the lessons of their generation?”
“America must always be in the lead if we are to be free,” concluded Perry as the crowd rose to their feet yet again. “My fellow Americans, This is our country, let’s restore its destiny…God Bless America and God Bless Texas!”
Attendees who watched Perry’s speech live told Breitbart Texas overwhelmingly positive reviews, although several expressed concern over his recent hires of Steve Schmidt and Henry Barbour. Nearly everyone who spoke to Breitbart Texas seemed to all assume that he would be running for president in 2016, and tweets on the #dream14 repeatedly referred to Perry as presidential.
[Disclosure: the author of this article has previously done independent consulting work for Americans for Prosperity.]
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter at @rumpfshaker.