By Raoul Biron, Staff Writer
“The next president of the United States has got their job cut out for them,” said Rick Perry, the former Governor of Texas to a crowded room full of New Hampshire constituents. “Economically, militarily, foreign policy wise, diplomatically,” he continued.
On Feb. 12, the Strafford County Republican Committee held its Lincoln Day Dinner and welcomed the three-term governor whom ended his 2012 Presidential campaign after placing sixth in the New Hampshire primary.
Perry has said that he is waiting until at least May to declare his potential candidacy, but continued to test the waters in the key primary state on Thursday. The former governor concluded his two-day trip to New Hampshire at the event by calling into question the administration’s ability to create jobs, secure the U.S.-Mexico border, promote a necessary competition between states and respond to international emergencies.
“When I look at this administration’s feckless foreign policy; when I look at the mistakes that have been made time after time … Our country must get back to a foreign policy where our allies know that we stand behind them and our enemies truly understand that if there is a red line drawn and you cross it, there are consequences,” Perry said.
Like several other unannounced contenders, Perry has taken necessary fiscal steps to prepare a campaign and unveiled a federal political action committee (PAC) in August. In June, Perry said, “Over the last 18 months I’ve focused on being substantially better-prepared … if I do, next year, make that decision, I will be prepared.”
On Thursday, Perry appeared to be focusing on the White House.
“We’re fixing to make a decision about who’s going to lead this country … We don’t need to elect a critic-in-chief, we need to elect a commander-in-chief,” Perry said. “Someone who has the experience of managing. An individual who has a track record. I’m biased, but I happen to think it’s going to be a governor.”
He criticized the federal government for allowing the U.S. to have “the highest corporate tax rate in the world” and emphasized that a less regulated Texas under his governorship created 1.4 million jobs.
Perry commented on energy from this vantage point as well. He acknowledged the industry specifically for its domestic and international economic impact, advertising the Keystone XL Pipeline and solar power business alike for their job-creating power and ability to let the country become “energy secure.”
In a room filled with key New Hampshire republicans such as Matt Mowers (the former executive director of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee and current strategist for New Jersey governor Chris Christie) and Chairman of the New Hampshire GOP Jennifer Horn, Rick Perry used his opening remarks to directly address members of UNH’s College Republicans.
“This speech is really for you … really for the next generation. When you think about this immoral debt that has been created in Washington D.C.,— it’s on you,” Perry said.
Having GOP candidates work to appeal to a younger demographic and highlight the importance of their involvement is something college students have become more familiar with in recent election cycles.
“That’s something that many candidates cater towards,” said Alex Fries, president of the UNH College Republicans. “Something that candidates in 2012 neglected and overlooked.”
Sophomore political science major and vice president of the UNH College Republicans, Ashley Zabriskie said, “That’s a popular decision made by candidates… and not addressing it was one of Mitt Romney’s biggest mistakes in 2012.”
In this appeal to younger voters, many Republican officials have chosen to shift their campaign’s focus away from potentially polarizing social platforms and more on key economic points.
“More politicians are understanding now that a lot of issues aren’t affected by it. More important economic issues need to be addressed before focusing on specific social issues,” Zabriskie said.
On Thursday, New Hampshire voters were shown that a fundamental part of Rick Perry’s current agenda was identifying a need to influence government through encouraging competition. Perry remarked that a greater emphasis on the 10th Amendment and federalism, and more comprehensive incentives for American businesses to compete could bring around an unprecedented economic revival.
“Americans aren’t going to make an easy switch from eight years of this young, very attractive, amazing orator, junior U.S. senator,” Perry said. “You’re going to go to a tested, results-oriented executive.”
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