The RedState Gathering in Ft. Worth was kicked off today with a rousing speech from Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who was quick to draw on the experience of America's founding fathers in dealing with America's challenges today.
"When a tyrannical king in a distant land who was power-hungry and oppressive... when we were faced with that, we rebelled against it. And it was a good thing...
Thomas Jefferson was right when he said a little rebellion now and then is a good thing. And now, faced with another power-hungry oppressive ruler in a faraway place... [laughter] ... it's time for us to start a little rebellion.
But this war that we will fight will be fought on the battlefield of ideas."
Perry went on to discuss the power of federalism, the crisis on the border, and even criminal justice reform in the opening session at the RedState Gathering in front of hundreds of conservative activists. A good portion of his discussion touched on the draw of Texan economic success to other states. "For twelve straight years," Perry bragged, "we have led the nation in exports. And as of January, we led the nation in high-tech exports, surpassing California and the home of Silicon Valley."
"More people are moving to Texas than any other state," Perry said. "They are voting with their feet."
Perry even touted his record on criminal justice reform:
"Because of a simple change that we made in handling first-time nonviolent drug offenses, the Texas crime rate has dropped to its lowest level since 1968. [Applause]. For the first time in modern history, we are not building new prisons, we're shutting them down.
No one should be confused about whether Texas is tough on crime. But we're getting smart about crime as well. And saving taxpayers money."
The assembled conservative activists - many of them from Texas - enthusiastically received Perry's remarks. Toward the end of his speech, he discussed a new political action committee - RickPAC - that he's forming to support conservative candidates across the country, in 2014, 2016, and beyond. As governor who's leaving office soon, RickPAC will provide Perry the opportunity to remain active in politics should he decide to seek further national office.