Guy Benson
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RICHMOND, VA – More than 1,000 Republican activists and donors crowded into the Richmond Convention Center’s grand ballroom for a state GOP fundraiser and barbeque lunch Wednesday afternoon.  The event’s primary draw wasn’t its host, popular Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, or even the generous portions of pulled pork and chicken.  No, most of the buzz surrounded the afternoon’s featured speaker: Texas Governor and presidential candidate, Rick Perry.

Perry took the stage to an enthusiastic standing ovation from the 2012 battleground state’s party faithful.  In his fairly brief remarks (he was “very tightly scheduled” today, according to a party handler), the GOP frontrunner sounded familiar campaign themes, attacking President Obama’s economic record and trumpeting his accomplishments as Texas’s chief executive.

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He lit into Obamacare, labeling it the “mother of all regulatory burdens,” and pledging to rescind as much of it as possible through executive orders on “day one” of his potential presidency.   The 2012 campaign should be about “freedom,” Perry argued.  “You can’t live free when the government takes over one-sixth of the economy” and infringes on “the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship…and you can’t live free if you don’t have the dignity of a job,” he said.

Perry said he’s confident Americans are “getting the message” that President Obama’s “job-killing, tax-raising” policies are failing the country.  Referring to last night’s historic special election results, Perry garnered one of the biggest applause lines of the afternoon by adding, “The voters in New York certainly got the message.  I just think that’s awesome.”  He later told reporters that Republican Bob Turner’s victory in New York City portends difficult days ahead for the Democratic Party, which is said is “on the ropes.”

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Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography