"We don't need a president who apologizes for America," Perry said in a packed hotel ballroom in Charleston, S.C. "We need a president who protects and projects those values."
Hours earlier, a candidate for U.S. Senate in Texas, Ted Cruz, spoke in the same room, helping the crowd get fired up.
"In his DNA, Rick Perry is a fighter," Cruz said. "My prediction is Rick Perry will win the nomination and in November 2012 he will defeat Barack Obama.”
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This weekend, the latest national RedState Gathering kicks off in Fort Worth amid a different political landscape. Since Perry's 2012 presidential bid fell flat, Cruz, now a U.S. senator, has risen to national prominence among conservative activists and has exposed a fissure in the Republican Party of Texas’ grassroots, one more noticeable as both Cruz and Perry are considering running for president in 2016.
The fragmented dynamic is reflected in RedState’s schedule. Perry is kicking off the conference with a welcome reception at the Fort Worth Stockyards on Thursday evening and an opening speech Friday morning. Nearly eight hours later, Cruz is closing out Friday’s activities with an evening speech followed by a reception at a local Mexican restaurant.
Several other Texas Republicans are scheduled to speak at this weekend’s conference, including Attorney General Greg Abbott, a candidate for governor; state Sen. Ken Paxton, who is vying to succeed Abbott as AG; and state Rep. Scott Turner, who has launched a campaign against House Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican.