Gov. Rick Perry: What he would be saying if he were running for president, which, of course, he isn't -- yet
Many of the big-name Republican presidential candidates spoke to the Republican Leadership Conference meeting in New Orleans this weekend -- Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum.
Jon Huntsman begged off sick. Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney were no-shows. And Ron Paul's fervent supporters among the 2,000 attendees pushed him over the top as a runaway straw poll winner, as we reported in detail here Saturday.
You'll never guess who did show up -- someone who's not officially running. (see video below.)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who said he really came to next-door Louisiana to persuade fellow Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal to stop stealing Texas football players.
Perry would clearly fill a gaping slot in the existing field, a Southerner, chief executive-type, governor with an anti-Washington ID.
Plus he's got a record of new conservative legislation (loser pays lawsuits and election day voter photo ID) and the kind of robust job creation that Washington is still only talking about.
Just by its own pro-business attitude, fiscal restraint and low taxes, Texas, according to Perry, has created 47% of all the new private sector in all 50 states during the last two years.
"I stand before you today," Perry told the crowd which chanted "Run, Rick, run," "as a disciplined, conservative Texan, a committed Republican and a proud American, united with you in the desire to restore our nation and revive the American dream."
Because we suspect you'll be hearing much more on the national stage from the longest-serving governor in Texas history, we're publishing this morning a video of his complete New Orleans speech. Watch below and see if you think he's running.
-- Andrew Malcolm
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Photos: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images (Perry speaking in New Orleans, June 18); Lee Celano / Reuters (Perry's enthusiastic audience).