Gov. Rick Perry made a triumphant return to Texas on Saturday evening for the first time since making his presidential ambitions official.
After a week on the road in the early primary states of South Carolina, New Hampshire and Iowa, Perry was introduced by his wife to a crowd of hundreds at Abel's on the Lake restaurant in Austin. During their travels, Anita Perry revealed, she and her husband had eaten more than their fair share of seafood, corn dogs and biscuits.
"People would pull me aside and say, 'Thank you for letting him run. ... We have been waiting for him,'" she said.
As Perry took the stage, his supporters cheered, snapped photos on their cellphones, and held up "Perry/President" signs.
The governor offered a brief speech that hit on the familiar themes of low taxes and little regulation. He also lobbed his familiar attacks against President Barack Obama for presiding over "an economic disaster" that has left "one in six Americans" without a full-time job.
"I am going to get America working again," he said. "It's time for a change. I'm not talking about the rhetoric of change. I'm talking about the record of change."
Perhaps sensing the increased scrutiny of his candidacy over everything from his jobs record to his views on evolution, Perry ended his remarks with fighting words for the "liberal pundits," advising his supporters about how they should reply when the media downplays the Texas way: "I want you to say, 'That dog won't hunt!'"
The governor winked his way down a rope line, autographed posters and hobnobbed with supporters.
"You've got a successful governor who's proven himself a man who honors God, a man who honors our state and honors the country and, like me, a military veteran. We're missing that in our government today," said J.R. Starch, a Perry supporter who attended the event with his family.
The governor's staff confirmed that he will remain in Austin for most of the coming week for a brief break before heading back on the road for a slew of fundraisers and campaign events.