DOVER, N.H. (AP) — Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday that voters have had enough of a "young, attractive" and inexperienced president and will be looking for a proven leader in 2016.
Perry, who is considering a second run for president, wrapped up a two-day trip to New Hampshire with a speech at the Strafford County Republican Committee's Lincoln Day Dinner. While he repeated his warning that GOP voters shouldn't nominate a "critic in chief," he had plenty of criticism for President Barack Obama, saying his lack of executive experience before becoming president has hurt him and that he hasn't picked up many management skills on the job. The nation is ready, he said, to move beyond "eight years of this years of this young, very attractive, amazing orator, junior U.S. senator."
"I don't think they're going to go there," Perry said. "They're going to go to a tested, results-oriented executive who has a record of accomplishment."
Perry, who dropped out of the 2012 race shortly after finishing sixth in New Hampshire's Republican primary, says he won't make a decision about a 2016 campaign until May or June. But he said he learned key lessons last time: get in early, and spend lots of time in the states that lead off the nominating process: Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
As he did Wednesday, Perry focused his speech on arguing that the federal government has overstepped its authority on issues such as health care and education while shirking its responsibilities on national security.
"We need to have congressmen and senators and a president of the United States that say listen, we're going to go back and do what the Constitution tells us to do," he said.
He listed numerous examples of what he considers Obama's "feckless foreign policy," including not arming Syrian rebels earlier to stop Islamic State fighters. Closer to home, he said Obama's tax and regulatory policies have stood in the way of states being able to compete for businesses and improve their economies.
After touting the 1.4 million jobs created in Texas while he was governor — more than the population of New Hampshire — he joked that he had expected Obama to thank him during his recent state of the union address.
Perry said allowing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, lowering the corporate tax rate and giving businesses incentives to invest in America instead of overseas would create a manufacturing revival unlike anything the nation has ever seen.
"The greatest years of America are in front of us," he said, challenging the crowd to "stand up for freedom."
"Are you ready to send that message across the country?" he said, referencing New Hampshire's state motto. "Are you ready to make people know that New Hampshire is about living free or dying?"