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In Iowa, Perry Looks to Reintroduce Himself

The first stop on the official Perry for President campaign was the same place he ended his last Iowa campaign. On the night before the caucus in early January 2012, Rick Perry and a couple hundred supporters gathered at the Hotel Pattee in Perry, Iowa. The enthusiastic crowd hoped they could still make a difference in a flagging campaign.

The crowd Saturday was about the same size. But the energy was different. This was the beginning of a second chance. Not the last gasp of January 2012. Although Perry's speech here this time did contain some of his favorite campaign lines from over the years, including his keys to economic success.

"You put those polices in place where people get to keep more of what they work for. You have a regulatory climate that's fair and predictable. A legal system that doesn't allow for over-suing. And then you make sure there are accountable public schools so that there's a skilled workforce. And then get out of the way and watch America flourish like it's never flourished before in its history," Perry said.

Credit Ben Philpott, KUT News
Rick Perry speaks to the crowd at the Roast and Ride event in Boone, IA.

The room at Hotel Pattee was filled with veterans, bikers and puppies. The last group was the beneficiary of a motorcycle ride Perry took from the hotel to Boone, Iowa. The Puppy Jake Foundation provides trained service dogs for wounded military veterans. The organization ties perfectly into the theme of second Perry campaign.

Perry announced his candidacy in front of a C-130 transport plane, the same kind he flew when he was in the Air Force. He’s surrounded himself with military vets and their families, including the widow of American Sniper Chris Kyle and the Navy SEAL who wrote and is the subject of the book and movie, Lone Survivor.

After his speech, Perry and about 40 bikers headed out for the fundraising ride. His campaign wasted no time in tweeting out a picture of Perry on a motorcycle, along with a picture of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker also on a bike. The only words on the tweet, “A lesson in contrast.”

At the end of the ride, was the inaugural Roast and Ride rally in Boone, Iowa. Freshman U.S. Senator Joni Ernst put the event together, and was able to entice 7 presidential candidates to speak.

Perry was first up, after a long parade of Iowa politicians. He got first stab at few thousand people who came out. His speech focused on what he calls his optimism for America.

"When I think about who we are, what we've been through and what we have the potential to do, I know that we're just a few good policy changes and a leadership change at the top from the greatest days in America's history. I know that," Perry said.

He also, once again, focused on the military. The anniversary of the D-Day invasion of France gave Perry and several other speakers a easy reference point to talk to the soldiers in the crowd.

From here, Perry heads to New Hampshire on Sunday to make a couple of campaign stops. Then he hops down to South Carolina on Monday, for another couple of events. 

Ben Philpott is the Managing Editor for KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @BenPhilpottKUT.
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