Rick Perry followed his best debate performance with one of his best speeches on the campaign trail in Iowa. The GOP presidential candidate delivered the keynote address at the Scott County GOP’s Third Annual Reagan Dinner.
Perry provided a preview of a new policy proposal that he will reveal today. “I’m going to unveil a plan to uproot all three branches of government and overhaul Washington,” Perry said. “It touches every branch of Washington.”
One part of the plan that should hit home with many Iowa caucus goers is Perry’s ideas for the judiciary. “I’m going to address lifetime federal judges who arrogantly re-write our laws from the bench.”
Perry also reminded the crowd of his social conservative credentials. “When it comes to protecting life, I offer more than just pro-life rhetoric,” the Texas governor said. “I’ve got a pro-life record.” Perry also mentioned that his state defined marriage as between one man and one woman in its constitution.
During Perry’s tenure, Texas also passed a law requiring voters to show a photo ID. Secretary of State Matt Schultz, who was in attendance, has been the leading advocate for such a law in Iowa. “Keep fighting,” Perry implored Schultz. “You’re on the right track, brother.”
Jean Hess of Davenport was among the attendees who were impressed with Perry’s speech. “I thought it was very good,” she said. “I think he had some great comments. I think he brought up some good points about his record, being pro-life, marriage between one man one woman and the voter ID law.” Hess says she remains undecided on who she will vote for on January 3, but Perry is her frontrunner for now.
An estimated 300 attendees paid $50 each to attend the event in Bettendorf. Scott County will play a very important role in the Iowa Caucus, which is just 49 days away. There are more than 32,500 registered Republicans there. The candidate who wins the Quad Cities area greatly helps his chances of winning Iowa.
Rick Perry worked the room prior to and during the dinner, visiting different tables and chatting with attendees. The former GOP frontrunner continued to display the self-deprecating humor that helped ease the blowback from his well-documented brain freeze in last Wednesday’s debate.
As congressional candidate Scott Batcher was addressing the crowd, he discussed federal agencies that he would like to cut, mentioning the EPA, education, and then pausing and looking at Perry before saying “energy”. Perry chuckled, then got up to high-five Batcher as the crowd burst into laughter and applause. The Department of Energy was the one Perry could not recall last week.
During Perry’s speech, while criticizing Washington bureaucrats, he again poked fun at himself. “They think the answer to every problem is add a new agency to government. And I can remember most of them.”
The crowd was appreciative of Perry’s sense of humor. “He’s handled it probably the only way he could have handled it,” said Davenport Alderman Bill Edmond. “I think he’s done very well.”
Judging from Perry’s speech, it appears that his new strategy is to project himself as a Washington reformer. “I’m running not to appease the Washington establishment, but to dismantle it.”
Perry struck all the right chords with the Quad Cities audience. “I thought it was good,” said attendee Jim Goff. “I thought he got to his points quickly. He didn’t mince words. I’d be comfortable with him in the White House.”
If Rick Perry is able to effectively sell his “reformer” strategy, it’s possible he can regain some of the momentum he lost in the last two months.
Other Notes from the Scott County GOP’s 3rd Annual Reagan Dinner
–Only three presidential campaigns sent staff to the event. Along with Perry’s, representatives for Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum were in attendance
–Three congressional hopefuls spoke to the crowd. John Archer, Scott Batcher and Dan Dolan are competing for the chance to take on Dave Loebsack in Iowa’s newly designed second district next year.
Archer’s speech touched on several conservative “red meat” topics like repealing ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank. He also told the crowd he is a fiscal and social conservative. Archer was the only one of the three to mention social issues. He also worked in a plug for Strong America Now, which was represented at the event by Polk County GOP co-chair Dave Funk.
Batcher’s speech focused heavily on eliminated fraud and waste in the federal government. Dolan spent much of his time paying tribute to Ronald Reagan and said his top priority would be creating jobs.
–During the dinner, the Scott County GOP showed an excellent Ronald Reagan tribute, narrated by Fred Thompson. This was something that the Iowa GOP bungled in Des Moines when they did not show their tribute tape until after dismissing the crowd.
–This was the 3rd Annual Ronald Reagan Dinner for the Scott County GOP and Secretary of State Matt Schultz has attended all three. That’s a long drive from Council Bluffs.
–Emcee Brian Kennedy referred to Scott County as a “the swing county in a swing state”. Matt Schultz declared, “Scott County’s not a swing county, it’s a Republican county. Thanks to all of you and your hard work.” Democrats still hold a voter advantage here, but the GOP continues to close the gap.
Photo by Dave Davidson, Prezography.com
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