WASHINGTON – After two weeks of negative press about his stand on immigration, Rick Perry addressed a conservative audience at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., on Friday. The Texas governor sought to ensure his waning Republican base that he is the most conservative candidate running for the presidency.
“If you think about it, every voter votes with values,” Perry said referencing the summit’s title. “The question is, whose values?”
The presidential candidate then went on to tell the audience that as president he would hold true to those conservative values that “made our country what it is.”
Perry repeated his usual “federal government is the problem” argument and made jabs at liberal ideology that promotes greater taxes and more regulation. Under the current administration, a large number of Americans are on government welfare, a telltale sign that President Obama and the liberal values are harming America, Perry stated. Yet, according to Perry, the political left will not admit this because they are “playing fast and furious with the truth.”
“Our employment needs to be expanded and our exports increased. And yet there’s President Obama standing in front of the White House press corps doubling down on the same failed economic policies that worsened our economy and doubled our deficit.”
“It just goes to show you that those blinded by tax and spending, big government ideology will never see the truth. Every day it is clearer that the United States economy, for it to grow and succeed, we need new leadership.”
At the mention of a new leader in the White House, the crowd gave Perry a standing ovation.
The Texan made sure his audience knew that his economic policies as governor helped spur job growth during a recession. As governor, he kept taxes low, regulation limited, and advocated tort reform – all of which he said made the Texas economy stronger. He vowed to implement the same policies for the entire nation if he becomes president.
"The only kind of stimulus that will work is the kind that puts more money in your pocket, not the government’s," he said.
Perry also addressed the issue of immigration, although he framed it as strictly a security issue. He failed to mention the Texas law he passed allowing the children of illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition to local colleges. In a GOP debate last month, he referred to his tuition policy and called those who disagreed with him “heartless.” For many conservatives who do not want to see illegal immigrants get the same perks as legal citizens, the comment sparked a lot of anger.
This time around, however, Perry was more cognitive of his audience and reassured them that he is not soft on immigration. He said would take a hard stand against the illegal immigrants who are “pedaling poisons to our kids.”
“As a border governor I have dealt with the carnage that was caused by failures in our federal border policy,” he stated. “I know the answers to those failures is not to grant amnesty to those who have broken the law to come to this country.”
As governor, he vetoed a bill that would have given driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and also advocated for photo identification to be presented when voting.
“There is no homeland security without border security,” Perry reassured his applauding audience.
Perry, who surged to the top after his announcement to enter the race to months ago, now trails frontrunner Mitt Romney by 3.9 percentage points among Republican-leaning voters, according to a Real Clear Politics poll.