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OPINION

New Hampshire Republicans defend Perry speech

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Portsmouth, New Hampshire (CNN) - A group of unaligned New Hampshire Republican officials held a press conference Thursday to defend a much-derided speech given by Texas Gov. Rick Perry in the state late last week.

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The speakers said Perry's speech had been well-received by the audience, and all expressed shock and dismay at how Perry had been ridiculed for his speaking style that night.

"Rick Perry gave a great speech. He was articulate, coherent, passionate and at times even humorous," said Jennifer Horn, two-time Congressional candidate and head of We the People, which has organized a series of forums with presidential candidates including Perry. "We are kind of sick and tired of the gotcha games by politicians and the political press."

The event came in response to media attention following Perry's keynote speech to the Cornerstone Action annual dinner Friday. An edited clip reel of Perry's speech - which struck some as being overly enthusiastic - has circulated on social media and cable news. Perry, who recently had back surgery, stated in an interview published Thursday that he had not taken any pain medications before the speech – and had not consumed any alcohol before the speech.

The speakers, including two organizers of the event and the speaker of the house, all attended the Cornerstone event Friday. They said they did not intend to prolong discussion of the speech by holding the press conference.

Horn said since a weekend snow storm left many New Hampshire residents without power, the speakers had not seen the edited clips and were not aware of the controversy until this week.

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"I was stunned to turn the television on and to see that people were talking about this in the manner that they were at all," she said.

Kevin Smith, who organized the dinner, batted down rumors that Perry might have been under the influence.

"The only thing I saw him drinking was water that evening," he said.

Thursday's speakers have not endorsed Perry, but said they felt coverage of the speech has become a distraction from serious issues on the trail, Horn said.

She encouraged voters to watch Perry's entire speech, rather than the eight-minute "arts and crafts" project featuring clips from the event.

In response to a reporter's question, Horn said she had informed Perry's campaign of her intention to address the issue, and had received no objections.

House Speaker Bill O'Brien said the officials spoke for many in the audience Friday who were upset with how the speech had been portrayed.

He was impressed by Perry that night.

"I sat there thinking, we need to see more of this Gov. Perry if he's going to move his campaign forward," he said.

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