Former Texas Governor Rick Perry was the keynote speaker at the Georgia Republican Party’s Victory Dinner Friday night, giving an address about American’s principles and its possible future that in the end, brought the crowd of over 700 people to its feet. Perry, who was one of the first to drop out of the presidential race recently announced his full support for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
With an obvious reference to President Obama, Perry started his speech by calling for the election in 2016 of a president who doesn’t apologize for America, but reflects its strengths. Reflecting on the war against terrorism, he said America should not appease its enemies, but should defeat terror with strength. Yet, he said, the country is in the early years of a long struggle against Islamic extremism that could last decades.
Perry’s prescription for a strong America features economic growth, but also includes a secure border, getting Washington out of education, and developing a new respect for the Constitution, including a better understanding of the tenth amendment. States, Perry said, should be allowed to make mistakes, because in the end, the American people will experiment and find ways to become successful.
This fall, Perry told his audience, Americans will have to decide which track the country should follow: the optimistic one he had outlined in his speech, or a socialistic path as laid out by Obama and presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. Bringing up the fact that the next president is expected to name several Supreme Court justices, he intoned that the impact of the election would last 40 years.
Citing the perceived flaws of Clinton, Perry said Republicans must be #NeverHillary, and proceeded present a list of reasons why the Democratic candidate should not advance to the White House, including exposing American Secrets, flouting rules by saying they don’t apply to her, not answering the 3 AM phone call from Benghazi, and blaming the incident that left an ambassador dead on a video.
By this time, the speech had gone on for 23 minutes and 45 seconds. Perry’s words had energized his audience. He was ready to wrap it up. “It’s time to come together,” he said. “Time to fight for the values the Republican Party shares.” At the 24 minute mark, he finally spoke the name of the GOP nominee for the first time. “Donald Trump is the man.”
The dinner crowd rose to its feet, cheering loudly. Perry’s final words about how Trump would lead America were drowned out by applause and cheers for the man that few people had referred to by name on the first day of a convention whose purpose was to select delegates who would vote for him in Cleveland.