*Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect remarks from Jeb Bush.
Former Gov. Rick Perry, drawing a sharp contrast between himself and his less-experienced rivals for the White House, said Friday the 2016 presidential race will be a "show-me-don't-tell-me election" in which the candidate with the strongest resume will prevail.
"2016 will not be an election about lofty rhetoric, but it's going to be about a record of leadership," Perry said during a speech at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn. Voters, he added, are going to "look past what you say to what you've done. They want a leader with firm resolve, a leader who says what he means and means what he says."
Perry's declaration amps up previous statements he has made casting doubt on the viability of White House hopefuls who have not been in the trenches of public service as long as he has. He has pointedly questioned whether the country is ready for "another young, untested United States senator" — a dig at freshman Sen. Ted Cruz, a fellow Texan and the first major 2016 presidential candidate to get into the race.
While Perry was most emphatic about 2016, he started his speech with some appeals to the gun-loving crowd, hitting on the "delusional thinking of the left" that assumes criminals obey laws restricting the use of firearms. Playing up his devotion to the Second Amendment, he said the Constitution is not a "cafeteria plan" in which Americans can pick and choose which amendments to obey.
Perry also pointed to several measures he supported as governor that expanded gun rights, including the so-called castle doctrine law that gave Texans a stronger legal right to self-defense. And he said the business climate he created in the Lone Star State was especially welcoming to gunmakers.
“I hung out the open-for-business sign for gun manufacturers, those that had been targeted by the liberal leaders in other states," Perry said, ticking off the names of three companies that had relocated to Texas.
Perry spoke Friday before former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who boasted that the Sunshine State today has double the number of concealed weapons permits than Texas has.
"Sorry, Governor Perry," Bush said. "Not that I'm competitive or anything."
Cruz was scheduled to speak later Friday at the NRA conference, which is being broadcast online.