Rick Perry tells RedState Atlanta he's ready to lead

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry opened his address to the RedState Gathering by acknowledging his current place in the race for the GOP nomination.

"I was up late last night," Perry said. "Not as late as I wanted to be."

That quip, of course, was a reference to his standing in the polls and his being relegated to the "kid's table" debate Thursday night in Cleveland. But, judging by the reaction of the 700 activists in the audience Friday in Atlanta, Perry sounded like a front-runner.

"I don’t believe the answer to this Democratic divider is to have a Republican divider," Perry said. "It's time for leadership that narrows the breach.

"We do not have to settle for a world in chaos or an America that shrinks from its responsibilities. We don’t have to apologize for American exceptionalism or western values."

In a speech that pivoted from immigration to the economy to foreign policy, Perry focused his ire at President Barack Obama, rather than likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton or his Republican opponents.

On immigration, Perry recounted how he confronted Obama in Texas.

"I met the president on the ramp in Dallas and I looked him in the eye and I said, 'Mr. President, if you won’t secure the border Texas will.' And we did," he said.

Perry touted Texas' economic growth during his administration and said he could bring that performance to Washington.

Rick Perry quick hits

Biggest applause line: “It is time to stand with our great friend Israel and never let light show between us again."

Sharpest jab at a Democrat: “We’ve had six-and-a-half years of a pretty good talker. A young, inexperienced United States senator that has America in the ditch now economically, foreign policy wise."

Sharpest jab at a Republican (without naming one in particular): “Both this administration and the Republicans in Washington, D.C., have failed us when it comes to funding our military.”

Check out the rest of our recent RedState stories:

What Chris Christie said about Planned Parenthood

At RedState: Chris Christie greeted with a slam from a Georgia gun group

How the Georgia convention eclipses Iowa (for at least a weekend)

Why Gov. Nathan Deal is skipping the event

Your guide to who’s coming to the RedState convention.

The talk jock behind the Atlanta convention.

More AJC coverage of the RedState Gathering.

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