Hundreds Cheer On Gov. Perry At Tommy's Ham House [Video]
Many wanted to meet the Texas governor in person, while others wanted to hear what he had to say
GREENVILLE -- Gov. Rick Perry of Texas was met with a huge crowd and applause, as he entered Tommy's Ham House on Saturday morning.
Perry, who announced his candidacy for president on Aug. 13 in Charleston, picked up a key endorsement at the event as former U.S. Ambassador and S.C. House Speaker David Wilkins officially cast his support.
"I am convinced we need his principle conservative leadership now more than ever," Wilkins said as he introduced Perry to the hundreds gathered at the local eatery, which has become a stop for politicians stumping for support.
Wilkins told the crowd that he is similar to Perry in many ways.
Wilkins joked that both married well above themselves, both have two grown children, both attended state land-grant universities, both were elected to the House of Representative at the age of 34 and in their 20s both had more hair.
"Gov. Perry is one of us. He is someone we can relate to, he is someone we can connect with, he is someone we can believe in," Wilkins said.
Wilkins pointed to the reasons he supports Perry and his plan to put Americans back to work. Wilkins said Perry had been doing that for the past 11 years as the governor of Texas by growing the state's economy and getting people back to work.
"We want our government to do a few things and do them well, then get out of the way and let business and the private sector grow the the economy and create jobs, not the government," Wilkins said.
"We are proud to support Gov. Rick Perry. We are proud he is in South Carolina, we are proud he is in Greenville. Ladies and gentlemen, the next President of the United States, Gov. Rick Perry."
Perry pledged to campaign in South Carolina with fervor, exciting the next generation of voters by making stops on college campuses and helping them understand what's at stake with this campaign.
"How are we going to get this country working again?" Perry said. "We are going to cut taxes, we are going to lower the regulation get the lawyers out of our business and we are going to get America back working again."
Perry's brief address on the economy lasted less than five minutes. He stressed the need to improve the economy through wages, not welfare.
"Right here in South Carolina, more than 10 percent of the population is unemployed," Perry said. "It is a testament to the widespread of misery created by this administration. They inherited a bad economy, but they made it worse."
Perry criticized President Barack Obama's administration for referring to food stamps as "economic stimulus." Food stamps are a symptom of the problem, Perry said.
"Most Americans don't yearn to be dependent on government," Perry said. "They want economic freedom that comes from work and wages, not welfare."
Perry said he has governed the state of Texas on just a few guiding principles:
"Number one is don't spend all the money," he said. "Keep the taxes as low as you can while still delivering the essential services. Have a regulatory plan that is fair and predictable and a legal system that does not allow for over-suing. Then, get out of the way government and let the private sector do what the private sector does best: create jobs and create wealth."
For the next 45 minutes or so, Perry spent time meeting supporters, shaking hands and autographing books and campaign signs.
First-time voter Sam Klein of Columbia was among the hundreds of people who turned out.
Klein just moved into his dormitory on the campus of Furman University on Friday, but said it was important for him to be at the campaign stop Saturday.
"He's a very impressive candidate, has himself together," Klein said.
While Klein hasn't made a decision about whom to support, he said he's looking for a candidate who sends a strong message.
"I'm a fan of small government and taking care of issues of America," Klein said.
Klein said he has been doing his own research on the candidates, reading about them on media sites, watching for them on television and trying to hear as many of them speak in person as possible.
Vic Ludlum of Taylors said while he hasn't made a decision whom to support, he is impressed with Perry.
"He has a track record of success," Ludlum said. "He has experience in state government the past 11 years and has had a chance to try putting his principles to work in Texas. He's on the right track with less taxes and free enterprise."
If asked to make a decision today on whom she would vote for in the 2012 election, Samantha Day of Greer said, "It's Rick Perry."
"We need to get country working again, get government out of the way... let businesses do what they can do and people get back to work and then we will have the tax revenue we need to solve our problems," Day said. "He's a real man. He can stare Putin in the eye and say, 'No, you aren't going to push us around.'"
Doris Forest of Greer said that she liked his personal contact with the crowd.
"You can tell a lot about a person by how he treats people," Forest said. "He asked me to pray for him, not vote for him. That's what I'm here doing is to make an opinion about a person, study the situation. We need strong leadership and honesty above all else."
But is Forest sold on Perry?
"I don't know," Forest said. "We need strong leadership, my prayer is the people in this new movement, like Sarah Palin and others, will step aside. I don't think we've been told the truth in this country. We need someone to direct us and do the right thing, deal with it. I have to vote for the man, not just the party."