ATLANTA — Rick Perry said Friday that anyone with doubts about how he would govern as president should simply look at Texas.
In his first domestic policy speech as a candidate for the White House, Perry touted his record on taxes, health care and the environment during a decade as governor of Texas. But he used the brief outline of his tenure to bludgeon his political rivals.
Perry raised the specter of the health care law Mitt Romney, his main GOP opponent, ushered through as governor of Massachusetts.
"As Republican voters decide who is best suited to lead this country in a new direction by stopping the spending spree and scrapping Obamacare, I am confident they will choose a nominee who has governed on conservative principles, not one whose health care policies paved the way for Obamacare," Perry said.
"I knew when I got into this race I would have my hands full fighting President Obama's big government agenda. I just didn't think it would be in the Republican primary."
The 13-minute speech to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, an Atlanta-based conservative think tank, was delivered in a laconic, low-key style. He received polite applause from the crowd, which included a number of Romney supporters.
Perry offered no policy proposals, instead pointing to Texas as a road map for a Perry presidency. "I have a lengthy record, and sometimes it has ruffled feathers," he said. "But sometimes you have to shake up the system. I am not running from my record."
Perry has been battling back after a shaky debate performance, after which he acknowledged he used "inappropriate" language when he called Republican rivals "heartless." Perry was defending a Texas law that allows illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at state universities if they meet certain criteria.