Texas Gov. Rick Perry. AP file photo.
BRISTOL, Tenn. — States like Texas and Tennessee are winning the job creation battle because their elected leaders promote conservative principles, Texas Gov. Rick Perry told a Sullivan County Republican Party Reagan Day dinner Thursday night.
“Tennessee and Texas, there’s something special about those places,” the former Republican presidential candidate told a crowd of close to 700 people at the Thunder Valley Club only steps away from the starting line at the Bristol Dragway.
Texas, like Tennessee, has transitioned to Republican leadership after years of Democrat rule in top executive and legislative positions.
Perry, in his 13th year as governor, said he continues to promote Texas as a state creating more jobs than any other state in the nation.
“Thirty percent of all the new jobs in the last 10 years were created in Texas,” Perry stressed. “There are stories about the number of doctors who have stayed in Texas or moved into Texas because of the tort reform we passed. ... The businesses that have relocated from other places with high taxes and high regulation have come to the state of Texas. ... We are in a competition with these other 50 states, and Tennessee is winning that competition because you have principled, disciplined men and women in your leadership roles.”
Perry has spent the last week in the Northeast recruiting jobs — featuring campaign-style videos attacking New York’s high taxes and referencing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on large sodas.
“It is good to be in Tennessee. ... It is good to be in SEC (Southeastern Conference) country,” Perry told the crowd.
Perry came to Northeast Tennessee at the request of Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, who chaired his Tennessee 2012 presidential campaign.
Perry got less than 2,000 votes in the March Republican Primary and finished a distant fifth.
He didn’t take questions from the Times-News, but media reports indicate he is mulling another presidential bid.
But a recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll showed U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, not Perry, starting as the Texas favorite in a fantasy 2016 Republican primary for president.
Still, the friendship — and nonstop kidding — between Ramsey and Perry was evident at the event.
“We became kindred spirits,” Ramsey said of his relationship with Perry. “I was honored in 2012 when Governor Perry decided he wanted to run for president, and he asked me to be his state chairman.”
Perry said that because of Ramsey’s leadership, men and women know they can risk capital and have a chance to get a return on their investment.
“When (Kingsport’s) Eastman (Chemical Co.) is expanding their business, they know that skilled work force will be here. ... That’s the most important thing,” Perry said.
Perry also played up the historical ties between the two states by dropping legendary names like Davy Crockett and Sam Houston.
“Sam Houston, governor of Tennessee and governor of Texas ... what an incredible man and an individual who understood principle. ... He believed so much in this country,” Perry told the crowd.
Before Ramsey introduced Perry, he said the Texas governor was awaiting the birth of a grandchild.
“We don’t know whether it’s a boy or girl,” Perry disclosed. “It’d be pretty cool if the baby was born while I’m on this stage here and if it’s a girl, we’ll just name her ‘Bristol.’ (But) my wife is probably saying ‘Shut your mouth, boy.’”