The new kid on the block has come out to play.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry spoke in Iowa Sunday night for the first time since announcing his candidacy for president in South Carolina Saturday. Along with Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Gov. Perry was one of three 2012 Republican presidential candidates speaking at the Black Hawk County Republican Party annual dinner in Waterloo.
Gov. Perry used the platform to emphasize his economic track record, take jabs at the policies of President Barack Obama, and show off his well-document political acumen and Texas swagger; reportedly high-fiving little kids, kissing 100-year-old women on the cheek and discussing rain totals with farmers as he entered the venue's ballroom surrounded by mobs. Washington Times on Gov. Perry's engaging presence in Waterloo Sunday:
"'We are indignant about a president who apologizes for America,' said Mr. Perry, who officially announced Saturday that he would seek the Republican presidential nomination.
Mr. Perry left the podium and moved with ease about the stage, looking directly at individual members of the audience instead of reading from a script. He also took questions from the audience, again with an ease few Republican candidates have shown."
Speaking to an audience of about 300 at the GOP fundraiser, Perry said the biggest issue facing the United States is "economic turmoil." He says that if the president "doesn't get this country working, we're in trouble."
"We need to be focused on jobs in this country. We need to focus on getting our country moving again," said Gov. Perry as reported by USA Today. "Forty percent of all jobs in America were created in the state of Texas."
Joe Garolfoli of the San Francisco Chronicle has posted an early cut of the Governor's Waterloo Speech:
While Sunday's speech showed the instant energy Gov. Perry brings to the campaign, it also produced a statement which some are already deeming controversial:
"One of the reasons that I’m running for president is I want to make sure that every young man and woman who puts on the uniform of the United States respects highly the president of the United States,"
"The line could be taken either as a slur on the military -- they're pretty much obligated to respect the president, or at least the presidency; or as a sort of validation of military doubts about civilian leadership, which isn't exactly standard issue politics in the developed world.
But if the line is close to the edge, it may also resonate, capturing discontent with Obama that's common among soldiers, and serving as a reminder that Perry's the only leading Republican to have served."
He plans to hold private meetings with GOP elected officials as he travels around the state Monday and Tuesday in a motor coach splashed with his name and the slogan "Get America working again." On Tuesday, Perry plans to hold an economic roundtable with businesspeople in Dubuque.
"We're going to spend a lot of time in Iowa," Perry told reporters.
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, the winner of Saturday's Iowa straw poll, was also speaking at the fundraiser. Fresh off her win in a closely watched test vote, the Minnesota Congresswoman portrayed herself as a mainstream Midwesterner. Bachmann touted her experience running her family's small business in Minnesota.
"We started our own successful small company," she told reporters. "We know how to build from scratch, putting capital together and starting a business from scratch and building it up so that we can actually offer jobs to people."
Rep. Bachmann waited outside the building in her campaign bus until Gov. Perry and Sen. Santorum were done speaking before entering the event. Several media sources suggested that the move prompted Republicans at the dinner to debate whether Rep. Bachmann was acting in politeness or a snub of two men intruding on her home turf.
Sen. Santorum and Gov. Perry are not the only political competitors to soon be on the Congresswoman's turf. President Obama is beginning his bus tour in Rep. Bachmann's home state of Minnesota on Monday, eventually making it to Iowa during a three-day midwest trip.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.