The roughly 15 minute speech was given to a crowd of several hundred at an event hosted by the conservative Georgia Public Policy Foundation.
Among those in attendance was former Cobb GOP Chairman Scott Johnson, who said he didn’t learn anything new.
“You didn’t hear anything new if you’ve heard Rick Perry before, but some solid policy comments, talking about his record in Texas mostly,” Johnson said.
Perry is smoother in delivering speeches than he is in debates, but then debates are hard for anyone except Newt Gingrich, Johnson said.
“He got into this thing late, and everybody’s looking for some kind of performance from him to catch him up with the pack. When you come out of the gate and get quick front-runner status, then you put a big target on your back,” Johnson said.
But at the grass-roots level, Johnson said the enthusiasm is for Herman Cain. Johnson said that was evident at the Republican Party’s booth at the North Georgia State Fair.
“By far the most popular stuff was Herman Cain’s stuff,” Johnson said. “By far. I think he is impressing people. They’re not typical political hacks, people that are involved. They do know they need to get involved in this election and (Cain) has gotten their attention.”
Yet the Texas economy under Perry cannot be overlooked, said another attendee, state Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth).
“I mean, the fact that the state of Texas has created 40 percent of the jobs in this country in the last two years can’t be ignored,” Setzler said. “In fact, 85 percent of the private-sector jobs in the year 2009 were created in the state of Texas, so when you look at real private-sector job creation, which is truly the engine of our economy, Texas is the model.”
During his speech, Perry said he was confident Republicans would choose a nominee who has governed with conservative principles, “not one whose health care policies paved the way for Obamacare, a path that blazed this world with higher premiums with the loss of thousands of jobs,” a reference to legislation Romney authorized as governor of Massachusetts in 2006.
Perry also ripped Massachusetts for being one of the first states to implement its own cap-and-trade program, including limits on carbon emissions for power plants.
“The former executive officer of the environmental affairs in Massachusetts today oversees air quality for President Obama’s administration,” Perry said. “A Harvard professor who helped draft carbon emission rules in Massachusetts is today the science czar for President Obama. I knew when I got into this race that I would have my hands full fighting President Obama’s big government agenda, I just didn’t think it would be in the Republican primary.”
Perry went on to say Americans were promised a stimulus plan that would create 3.5 million jobs, but the country ended up losing 2.5 million jobs. Obama’s latest stimulus program is just a second round of massive spending, he said.
“Employers are smart enough to know that temporary tax relief paid for with permanent tax hikes is not going to lead to greater economic certainty, but instead, it’s going to lead to a greater and more permanent bureaucracy that, quote, ‘spreads the wealth,’” Perry said.
Last year, Obama’s administration implemented 43 new regulations that cost businesses more than $26 billion, Perry said, referencing the recent comment made by Coca-Cola’s chief executive, Muhtar Kent, who indicated it was easier doing business in China.
“Now think about that for a moment,” Perry said. “When a communist country has less bureaucratic red tape than America, we might just be on the wrong track.”
Washington is broken, Perry said: One in six work-eligible Americans can’t find a job. Forty five million Americans are on food stamps. The nation’s credit had been downgraded, and its debt has exploded.
By comparison, since June 2009, Texas has created 40 percent of the new jobs in the country, and during that time Texas’s credit rating went up, Perry said.
Perry said he led with a few simple guiding principles as governor.
“One is don’t spend all the money,” he said. “Have fiscal restraint in how you deal with the issues in your state. Keep your taxes low. A personal income tax of zero is good.”
Moreover, the regulatory climate must be fair and predictable, he said, while the legal system needs reform.
For example, in 2003, Texas was losing doctors because of exposure to lawsuits.
“So we put forward tort reform that included $250,000 caps on non economic damages and medical liability suits, and the result of that is not some seven-plus years later, there are more than 23,000 doctors who are licensed to practice medicine in the state of Texas,” he said. Lawsuit reform needs to be spread across all economic sectors in the country, he said.
“Perhaps nothing could do more to give employers certainty though than to stop the mad dash to these federal regulations they’re having that kill jobs in America today,” he said. “If President Obama is serious, if he is serious about improving the job climate in this country, he will do more than just intervene in a few EPA regulations. What he should do is freeze all proposed federal regulations for six months starting today, if he’s really serious … if the President wants to get America working again, he’ll jump this maze of new regulations and agencies and programs that have been created under Obamacare.”
In closing, Perry made two promises. The first was to repeal “Obamacare” his first day in office.
“And No. 2, every day I will try to make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as I can,” he said.
Cobb GOP Chairman Joe Dendy said he wasn’t aware of any Cobb notables who had yet to formally endorse Perry.
The Perry campaign on Friday issued a press release listing the names of 45 Georgia lawmakers to have endorsed Perry, but the only Cobb legislator listed was state Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna).
Attendee state Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-east Cobb), said she enjoyed Perry’s sense of humor.
“He’ll give these one-liners, and you have to think about them for a minute, and he really does have a good sense of humor, but it’s not real obvious. And he does come off a lot better, more personable (than in the debates).”
“I sort of have the same feeling he does about issues that sometimes you have to ruffle some feathers and try a new way to solve a problem,” Cooper said.