Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry of Texas said on Tuesday he is thinking seriously about a run for the presidency and presented himself as a conservative stalwart at a party fundraiser.
Perry told the New York Republican Party's annual Lincoln Dinner that he agreed with former President Ronald Reagan's belief that social and economic issues, the "two main segments of contemporary American conservatism," could be joined into "one politically effective whole;"
Earlier on Tuesday, Perry said in an interview on Fox News that the presidency was not on his radar six weeks ago, but now he's "giving it the appropriate thought process."
The comments from Perry came two days after he addressed an anti-abortion rally in Los Angeles and the day after seven Republican hopefuls, some declared candidates and some not, met for a televised debate in New Hampshire.
Analysts said the debate kept former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as the early front-runner for the party's 2012 presidential nomination. But conservatives remain wary of Romney's record, including Massachusetts state medical reforms that President Barack Obama cited on the road to Obama's signature achievement, the national health reform known as "Obamacare."
Perry blasted Obamacare in his speech, saying it could "crumple" states, and he said that Texas led the nation in new jobs because it was business-friendly.
Perry faulted "endless overreaching by the federal government," saying "Washington isn't supposed to be the all-powerful, all knowing, all spending Oz, pulling the levers of freedom while limiting the freedom of our citizens."
Political analysts have said Perry would bring strong credentials as a fiscal and social conservative to the race for the GOP nomination. In Texas, Perry got a bill enacted that curbs "frivolous" law suits and another recent law requires women to have pre-abortion sonograms.
Perry's critics note that the Texas economy has benefited greatly from soaring oil prices and that it also depends heavily on federal aid.
Texas, along with Illinois and Georgia, is among the states that have the most to lose from federal budget-cutters, according to an RBC Capital Markets report.
But Perry, the author of a book about states' rights, told the Republican dinner that states should lead the nation, instead of being subjected to "one-size-fits-all dictates and mandates" from Washington.
Perry, whose speech was interrupted by applause numerous times, did not elaborate on any plans to run in 2012. During his Fox News interview, he said he had been soul searching with his wife, Anita.
"It was a number of conversations that were had with people I trust, including my wife, that basically said, 'Listen, our country is in trouble and you need to give this a second thought,'" said Perry, a former Democrat.
Perry told Fox that he was sorting through the physical and mental costs of running in 2012 and what it would mean for his family, though he didn't indicate when he would decide.
When asked why he has received criticism in the Lone Star State, Perry responded: "A prophet is generally not loved in their home town."
Perry is the longest-serving governor in Texas history. He was an early supporter of the low-tax, limited-government tea party movement.
Though Perry risks alienating Hispanic voters with a proposed ban on "sanctuary cities," where police officers would be barred from enforcing federal immigration curbs, in his speech he saluted Ellis Island immigrants and all the September 11 victims "of so many faiths, ethnicities and cultures."
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