ROUND ROCK — Gov. Rick Perry came out swinging Monday in his first speech since dropping out of the presidential race, attacking President Barack Obama for “misguided socialist policies” and vowing to remain in the public fray.
“I'm not slipping off into the sunset,” Perry told a friendly GOP audience. “We've got plenty of work to do right here in the state of Texas. ... And I've got plenty of fighting left in this old 61-year-old body.”
Perry was accompanied by his wife, Anita, for his speech at the Williamson County Republican Party's fundraising Reagan Dinner.
The governor said he wouldn't trade his unsuccessful presidential run “for anything that I have ever done in my 60-plus years of living” and called this “the most important election of our lifetime, whether I'm on the ballot or not.”
“Republicans nationally are united in knowing that we cannot afford four more years of ... misguided socialist policies from President Obama,” said Perry, who has endorsed Newt Gingrich but said that any of the GOP hopefuls would be better than the Democratic incumbent.
Perry was introduced by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is running for U.S. Senate. He praised Perry for entering the national arena, saying, “If it doesn't kill you, it'll make you stronger.”
The governor seemed determined to show strength Monday after his disastrous national candidacy, touting his stands against raising taxes and what he terms excessive regulation, and his support for policies that restrict abortion.
Perry talked up states' rights and hit the Obama administration on regulatory and energy policies. He accused the administration of trying to “appease pro-abortion radicals who fund their campaigns” by not allowing a waiver for Texas to exclude Planned Parenthood from a family-planning program.
“Stop it, Mr. President,” Perry said.
Perry left the presidential race more than two weeks ago after a series of faltering debate performances and campaign-trail stumbles sank a candidacy that started late but high in the polls.
Since dropping out, Perry has used the social media site Twitter to showcase activities including target practice (he said he hit an egg at 100 yards), morning runs and prayers for Rick Santorum's daughter Bella, when she was hospitalized.
On Monday, Fox News aired an interview with Perry and his wife.
“I haven't left the fight. I just went home and rearmed and reloaded my mags, and I'm going to be fighting on a different front,” Perry said in the interview.
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