Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who made his Republican presidential nomination candidacy official on his new campaign website and in Charleston, S.C., on Saturday, has named Rob Johnson as his national manager, The Washington Times has learned.
Ray Sullivan, the governor's chief of staff, will be the nomination campaign's communications director.
Mark Miner, Mr. Perry's long-time gubernatorial spokesman, will be the nomination campaign's national press spokesman.
Mr. Johnson managed Mr. Perry's 2010 gubernatorial re-election and then managed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's nomination campaign, until Mr. Johnson and other top Gingrich campaign staff quit earlier this year over what they regarded as Mr. Gingrich's insufficient attention to his own campaign and a reluctance on Mr. Gingrich's part to spend time seeking donations necessary to pay staff and other bills.
David Carney, Perry strategist for the 2010 re-election effort, was also part of the Gingrich presidential nomination team that quit. Mr. Carney is expected to be the chief strategist for the Perry nomination run.
Mr. Perry is one of several speakers addressing the conservatives at an event sponsored by the RedState political blog.
"It is time to get America working again," Mr. Perry said in his speech at the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston. "That's why, with the support of my family, and an unwavering belief in the goodness of America, I declare to you today my candidacy for President of the United States."
"It is time for Americans to believe again — to believe that the promise of our future is far greater than even the best days of our past," he said. "It is time to believe again in the potential of private enterprise, set free from the shackles of an overbearing federal government. And it is time to truly restore our standing in the world and renew our faith in freedom as the best hope of peace in a world beset with strife."
"One in six work-eligible Americans cannot find a full-time job," Mr. Perry said. "That is not a recovery, that is an economic disaster."
Mr. Perry has become the instant superstar many political observers expected. J.D. Norman, a northern Virginia resident, waited 1½ hours in line to hear Mr. Perry in Charleston, he told The Washington Times.
An estimated 120 members of the press turned out. The Perry audience, many from Texas, spilled into and filled two overflow rooms, both with a live TV feed.
Mr. Perry didn't mention his nomination rivals or the straw poll taking place in Ames, Iowa, as he spoke. He is not on the ballot.
"He brought his whole family along — wife, daughter, son and daughter-in-law," Mr. Norman said. "Good-looking family. Ready for primetime. The whole family looked presidential. At times, he sounded Reagan-ish."
Mr. Norman, a conservative from a noted conservative family in Virginia, said, "I got a handshake when Gov. Perry left. He looked me in the eye and said, 'Thank you so much for being here. It means a lot to me.' It was as if no one else was in the room. Sounded incredibly sincere."
On his website (http://www.rickperry.org/news/why-im-running/), Mr. Perry made clear his stump speeches would address foreign policy failings of the Obama administration as well as the inadequate jobs formation in the U.S.
"What I learned in my 20's traveling the globe as an Air Force pilot, our current president has yet to acknowledge in his 50's – that we are the most exceptional nation on the face of the earth," Mr. Perry said, subtly inserting a rejoinder to critics who say he has no foreign policy experience.
He said that "America's place in the world is in peril, not only because of disastrous economic policies, but from the incoherent muddle known as our foreign policy. Our president has thumbed his nose at traditional allies such as Israel and Great Britain."
Mr. Perry, who as then-lieutenant governor succeeded George W. Bush as governor when Mr. Bush became president, has staked out a God and freedom theme initially, saying, "As Americans, we believe freedom is a gift from God, and government's prime function is to defend it."
"We don't see the role of government as a nanny state, and we recognize there is no government money that wasn't once earned through the sweat and toil of private citizens," Mr. Perry said.
James Dobson, a respected leader on the social-issues right, used his radio program to praise Mr. Perry mainly for the management of Texas' economy.
"Rick Perry has devoted his adult life to creating a more prosperous Texas," Mr. Dobson said in what could be interpreted as an endorsement. "The Lone Star State's 47th governor, he has defended Texans' conservative values, fought for principled solutions to tough challenges and worked to implement a clear vision for better schools, more jobs, safer communities and a brighter future."
Mr. Dobson's encomium could have been written by the new Perry campaign's speech-writing department.
"Thanks to his adherence to tough fiscal discipline, Gov. Perry has helped shape a job-creation environment unlike any other state's," the founder of Focus on the Family said. " With low taxes and government spending, predictable regulations, a fair legal system and increasingly accountable schools, Texas has led the nation in job creation with more jobs gained than any other state in 2010 and over the past 10 years."
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