FORT WORTH, Texas – Sounding like he’s almost made up his mind to run again for president, Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday told a national audience of conservatives that it’s time for a rebellion against a “power-hungry, oppressive” Barack Obama.
Hours later, fellow Texan and tea party firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz edged closer to confirming that he too may mount a 2016 White House run, saying that as many as 15 Republicans are mulling one and hinting that he soon could be one of them. Cruz had largely ducked such questions previously, saying only that his focus was “100 percent on the U.S. Senate.”
Both Perry and Cruz landed plum speaking slots at the RedState Gathering in Fort Worth, with the governor helping open the influential conservative blog’s annual conference and the senator keynoting an evening session. The pair eventually could find themselves competing for the same slice of the GOP electorate, religious and social conservatives energized by an intense mistrust of Obama.
“Thomas Jefferson was right when he said, ‘A little rebellion now and then is a good thing,’ ” Perry said told the RedState crowd to cries of “Amen!” “And now, faced with another power-hungry, oppressive ruler in a faraway place, it’s time for us to start a little rebellion.”
But the reception from hundreds of attendees was far more raucous for Cruz, who RedState founder Erick Erickson introduced as “the leader of the conservative movement in the United States of America” and who got a standing ovation before his speech started. Cruz also was later compared to all four Beatles rolled into one, and to one of America’s Founding Fathers.
In 2011, Perry used RedState’s national convention to kick off his presidential campaign – and Cruz, at the time just an underdog Senate candidate, was among the undercard speakers.