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Perry to GOP Convention: Not Riding Into Sunset

Gov. Rick Perry, speaking at the state’s Republican convention on Thursday, fueled speculation that he’ll run for re-election, saying he was “not riding into the sunset” but “mounting up for the next operation.”

Gov. Rick Perry on May 29, 2012, watching television returns after speaking at the party for Charles Schwertner's victory in the Texas Senate race for District 5.

FORT WORTH — Gov. Rick Perry, speaking at the state’s Republican convention Thursday, fueled speculation that he’ll run either for re-election in 2014 or for the presidency in 2016, saying he was “not riding into the sunset” but “mounting up for the next operation.”

Most of his remarks drew uproarious applause from the delegates in the audience — his suggestion that the 2008 election of President Obama was the nation’s “oops moment,” his pride that the state had “defunded Planned Parenthood” and his declaration that Texans didn't need U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder telling them how to "address election fraud" were particular crowd-pleasers. But the reaction was far different when he reasserted his support for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the runoff for U.S. Senate.

The crowd roared with boos, some continuing several seconds into Perry's speech, a strong indication that many favor Tea Party candidate and former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz. When asked about the audience's reaction as he made a stop by the Empower Texans booth after his speech to push the budget compact he announced in April, Perry said, "I thought they were saying 'Dewwwww,'" as he walked away.

Perry has become adept at poking fun at his failed presidential bid on the campaign circuit, and he did it again Thursday. “Twenty million dollars may not earn you any delegates,” he said, “but it will give you a great tour of this country." He also let the audience in on what it was like to be the presidential front-runner: "It was the most exhilarating three hours of my life."

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott followed Perry on stage. Abbott — who has not endorsed in the Senate runoff — kept his remarks on the work he's done in office, touting the numerous lawsuits he's brought against the federal governments on topics like EPA regulation, health care reform and voter ID.

"My job's pretty simple. I go into the office, I sue the federal government and then I go home," he said.

Abbott later elaborated that as AG he has also focused on prosecuting sex offenders, protecting family values and Second Amendment rights. 

The full text of Perry's speech is below: 

Howdy! It’s great to be in Fort Worth, where the West begins.

I bring greetings from your capital city, where the Democrat-controlled city motto is “Keep Austin weird.” This week in Fort Worth we have a different motto: Keep Texas Republican.

I can’t think of a better county to host the nation’s largest Republican convention than our largest Republican county: Tarrant County.

It’s right here where the conservative cause is strongest, and the voice of the Tea Party is the loudest.

It’s been two years since we last got together. And you might say a lot has happened since then.

We elected the first Republican supermajority in the history of the Texas House.

We eliminated a $27 billion shortfall without raising taxes.

And I learned that $20 million may not earn you any delegates, but it will give you a great tour of the country.

People ask me what it was like running for president. And I tell them being the presidential front-runner was the most exhilarating three hours of my life.

But I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world. As I traveled this great country, I was reassured that despite the different accents, climates and cultures — and despite the fact millions have lost jobs — we are a nation of people who remain optimistic, who still believe in the promise of the American Dream, and who just want to get government out of the way so we can get back to work.

I ended my campaign with appreciation and gratitude that a son of tenant farmers could have the opportunity to run for the highest office in such a great land.

I also know the cause lives on. If America is to be America again, if we are to get off the mat and on our feet again, If we are to reclaim our birthright of freedom again, we need a president who believes in us again.

Three and a half years, and nearly 100 rounds of golf into his presidency, Barack Obama has exploded the federal debt, passed a failed, budget-busting stimulus package, socialized health care and provided guns to Mexican drug cartels.

Admit it America -  2008 was our national “oops” moment!

Barack Obama’s campaign slogan is one word: Forward. I have a different slogan for him: “do over” — because that’s what he is asking for in 2012.

But America cannot afford and deserves more than a do-over election.  The stakes are high because the differences are great. Our fight is not just a difference of opinion, it is a parting of world views.

The liberals think government exists to fix what’s wrong with America. They find fault with our Constitution, our economic model and our core values.  We disagree with the premise of their argument. We believe there’s nothing wrong with America that an extra dose of freedom won’t cure.

They believe there is a fundamental unfairness to free markets, and that government exists to redistribute the fruits of freedom.

They lack faith in individual Americans to care for their neighbors, help the sick and feed the poor.

They talk about fairness but practice the politics of envy. They talk about rights while creating new victims. And they mistake license for liberty, oblivious to the fact one is a vice and the other a virtue.

Our view is that individuals and families can govern their lives better than bureaucrats. We believe private citizens and employers have every incentive to preserve clean air, fresh water and fertile soil.

We believe in government involvement that leads to independence: good schools, quality roads and the best health care.

We know there is no such thing as freedom without the risk of failure.

For too long the system has been gamed from Wall Street to K Street. Big banks get bailed out, small businesses shut down.

That’s not the America I know. We’re better than that. And we deserve a president who gets that.

That’s why I will proudly cast my vote for Mitt Romney as the next president of the United States.

I’m tired of a federal government at war with the states, with bureaucrats and czars who discard the 10th Amendment and disdain the 2nd Amendment.

I’m tired of an overzealous EPA that kills jobs, a Department of Education that tries to subvert local control, and a Department of Justice capable of operations like Fast and Furious.

And for the record, we don’t need Eric Holder telling Texas how we can address election fraud.

We passed a Voter ID law. Read the 10th Amendment Mr. Holder. And get out of the way.
To Washington, Texas is an outlaw state. To the rest of America, we are the land of opportunity.

We lead the nation in job creation, and have the fastest growing population.  Since June of 2009, Texas has added 474,000 jobs.  One-quarter of all the jobs added in America during that time period were created right here in Texas.

No doubt we had our share of citizens who have suffered through this great recession. But Texas is on the right track.   

Employers know, and workers know, if there is one place where you can find a job, or take a risk with the chance of reaping a reward, it is Texas.

We have held the line on taxes, and controlled spending. We stared down the largest budget shortfall in state history without raising taxes. In fact, we extended a tax cut for 40,000 small businesses.

We continued to take action against lawsuit abuse, passing a new “loser pays” law.

And we are leading an energy revolution by drilling in shale formations.

We don’t have to settle for high gas prices. We don’t have to put our national security in the hands of Middle East Mullahs. Drill here. Drill now. And get America off hostile foreign sources of energy!

Here is what we know after more than a decade of Republican rule: Texas works.

Even The New York Times let it slip into its pages that, “Texas is the future.”

Texas works because we keep taxes low and spending under control. We stop frivolous lawsuits. We provide predictable regulations. And we get out of the way and let the private sector create wealth.

And Texas works because you elected strong leaders.  I have had strong partners by my side, passing some of the most conservative reforms in America.  

We all know in our hearts that Texas is the laboratory of conservative reform. We need more strong, conservative Texans in Washington, including my friend and colleague David Dewhurst.

Texas works.  Our jobs and growth prove it.  But there’s still plenty of work left to do.  

One of my top priorities is to pass the Texas Budget Compact so we can control the cost of government for years to come.

With 26 straight months of rising sales tax collections, now is the time to enact truth-in-budgeting reforms. Let’s pass a stricter constitutional limit on spending. Let’s protect the Rainy Day Fund from being raided for ongoing expenses. Let’s end the practice of payment delays. And let’s commit to stopping any and all tax hikes in the session ahead.

If you agree that we must do more to instill fiscal discipline in our state, then I would like to ask a favor.

Take out your cellphones — go ahead, I’ll wait. Click on your texting icon, and put in this number: 21824…. 21824.  

Then type in the word “Compact.”  And hit send.

We will give you up-to-the-minute updates on our progress in reforming our state budget.

This is important. The power is in the purse strings. But there is more power in this room than there ever is in the halls of the Capitol.

Change doesn’t start in the Capitol. It starts in your community.

You spoke up about election fraud, and now we have a voter ID law.

You declared your allegiance to traditional marriage, and because of it we passed a Defense of Marriage Act.

You stood for the unborn, and we defunded Planned Parenthood.

When your voice becomes a clarion call, it cannot be ignored.

Nothing illustrates this more than concerned citizens who gathered on April 15, 2009, and declared we have been taxed enough already — the Tea Party. Your siren song turned into the largest congressional landslide in a generation.

And I have a message for the liberals and the defenders of the status quo: we’re just getting started.

Until we have passed taxpayer protections, until we have reformed our budget process to stop excess spending, until we have done all we can do to protect innocent life and traditional values, your work is not done and my work is not done.

For me, continuing to serve as your governor is the honor of a lifetime.

I’m not riding off into the sunset. I’m mounting up for the next operation.

We each are drawn into this arena for unique reasons. But I would venture to say, for the vast majority of us, it is about a cause greater than self.

For many it is about the legacy we leave behind for the next generation. For many more, a love of service rooted in a love of our fellow citizens.

For others still, it is about the principles enshrined in our Constitution, and concern about activist judges who disregard the foundation of law.

For me, it is all these things, and more.

In my life, the greatest cause that transcends self-interest, that empowers flawed men like myself to serve such a great people, is the belief rooted in Scripture that all that we say, and all that we do, should be done to the glory of God.

The God we serve does not seek out the perfect, but instead uses our imperfections and our shortcomings for his greater good.

I am humbled by my own limitations. But where I am weak, He is strong.

I am reminded by the words of a divinely inspired hymnal of just how great He is:

“O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder consider all the works Thy hand hath made.

I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee; How great Thou art, how great Thou art!”

We share this earth not only with 25 million people who call themselves Texans, but with a great and majestic God who spoke it into being, who knows our hearts, and whose judgment is infinitely truer than that of all historians combined.

May all that we say, and all that we do, advance His purposes and not just ours’. May we realize how blessed we are to live in a land that is plentiful, to be able to serve a people so wonderful. And may we do so with the humble knowledge that decades from now, few will remember our names, but all will be impacted by what we have done in our limited time.

Let our actions declare, “How Great Thou art.” May our service be a form of worship, because He gives us breath, He gives us life, He gives us purpose.

Let us never lose sight of whom we serve.

Thank you, God bless you, and through you, may God bless Texas.

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