ALGONA – Iowans are meeting the new Rick Perry and liking what they see. This is not the same man who joined the presidential race in August of 2011 as the frontrunner and quickly plummeted. The “oops” guy is gone. This new Rick Perry is animated. He speaks off-the-cuff. He cracks jokes. He brings audiences to their feet.
Actually, saying this is the “new” Rick Perry is a misnomer. We are actually seeing the real Rick Perry. The Texas governor has always been comfortable in one-on-one sessions or when working a room, shaking hands and posing for pictures.
However, that was not the same man we saw behind when delivering speeches to Iowa caucusgoers and participating in debates. That guy was stiff. He read his speeches off of prepared notes. He fumbled badly in debates and his presidential campaign floundered.
Part of the problem was Perry entered the presidential race shortly after undergoing back surgery. He was far from fully recovered and it affected his performance.
Another problem was the prepared speeches. It is difficult to read written remarks while sounding natural and addressing the audience all at the same time. That is an acquired talent that takes practice. Governor Perry was the one who realized pre-scripting his speeches was not helping him connect with audiences. So he dropped the prepared remarks about a year ago. Since then, the improvement has been dramatic.
“He’s a man of great emotion and passion,” said Bob Haus, Perry’s top Iowa advisor. “He’s also a great natural communicator, either in person or on a large stage. Prepared remarks don’t always let that show through. And so he isn’t using prepared remarks unless it’s a major policy speech. It just allows him to be Rick Perry, who can light up an audience as well as anyone.”
Perry was the keynote speaker at the first NICE (North Iowa Conservative Event). Nine northern Iowa county GOP central committees banded together for a joint fundraiser. Attracting a crowd of 240 in Algona on a Saturday evening, the event was a success for the organizers and for the keynote speaker.
The audience treated Rick Perry very warmly, and deservedly so. He brought them to their fight twice during the speech. Both times, Perry was discussing immigration.
“I long for Washington and the administration to respect the Constitution of the United States and respect those enumerated powers that it talks about, and do the things the federal government is supposed to do very well, like being able to stand a powerful foreign policy. And how about securing the border like it calls for in the Constitution,” Perry said as the crowd erupted.
Perry called on President Obama to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the border immediately. He said that since 2008, there have been 642,000 criminal acts committed by illegal immigrants in Texas. More than 3,000 of those were homicides.
The Texas governor also noted that it is not just Mexicans and Central Americans crossing our porous southern border. Last week, three Ukrainians were discovered on the ranch property of Texas Comptroller Susan Combs.
To stop the huge overflow of illegal immigrants, Perry’s office has spent $1.3 million per week over the last three weeks. He says he is prepared to do more if President Obama refuses to act.
“We know how to secure the border. If the federal government will not do its duty, then I will suggest to you that the State of Texas will,” Perry said as the attendees leapt to their feet again.
The speech earned rave reviews from attendees of the NICE fundraiser. Of all the speeches Perry has delivered in Iowa, this might have been the best one so far.
If Rick Perry can connect with audiences throughout Iowa the way he did Saturday night in Algona, the Texas governor might return to the list of top GOP presidential contenders for 2016.
The counties: The nine county parties that participated in the fundraiser were Cerro Gordo, Emmet, Hancock, Humboldt, Kossuth, Pocahontas, Webster, Winnebago and Wright.
The idea behind it is these small counties are unlikely to land top-flight speakers on their own, so why not band together for one big event. Good idea, that might serve as a model around the state.
Other Speakers: National Draft Ben Carson for President Campaign Director Vernon Robinson, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, Congressman Steve King, Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, State Auditor Mary Mosiman, Attorney General candidate Adam Gregg and State Treasurer candidate Sam Clovis
Notable Attendees: RPI Co-Chair Cody Hoefert, National Committeeman Steve Scheffler, National Committeewoman Tamara Scott, State Central Committee member Jamie Johnson (who did a a great job as emcee), State Rep. Ted Gassman, State House candidate Mike Sexton and State Senator Dennis Guth.
The food: Pork loin, roast beef, spring salad, rolls, potato salad, corn and cupcakes for dessert. I went with two pork loins, skipping the beef. It was excellent. I really liked the potato salad. There were leftovers for sale at the end of the event. I bought a bag of pork loin to bring home. They were good Sunday too.
Perry joins the sing-a-long: Emcee Jamie Johnson made one error. He called Rick Perry to the stage before allowing singer Denise Shipler to perform her final song. She sang the national anthem beautifully earlier.
So, with Perry already onstage, they turned the microphone over to Shipler. She asked for audience participation for her song, “Iowa”. Perry was a good sport and obliged, clapping, stomping his foot and singing at the proper time. The video is below:
Overall: This was a really good event. Rick Perry always does a good job visiting with attendees at fundraisers and this was no exception. He worked the room, shaking hands and posing for pictures. The speeches were good, the entertainment was top notch, the food was excellent and the program moved fairly quickly. Overall, nice job.
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