Perry fires up supporters for Iowa's decision day

Posted Tuesday, Jan. 03, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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DES MOINES - Texas Gov. Rick Perry started his final burst of campaigning for tonight's Iowa caucuses with a rousing show of support from fellow Texans.

Proclaiming himself as "truly the luckiest man in the world," the 61-year-old governor appeared before more than 200 members of a strike force of volunteers imported from Texas and other states to help boost Perry's campaign.

"We've got the A-Team in here," Perry declared before embarking on a day of events that included evening appearances before Iowa caucus goers.

"I never dreamed we'd be standing before you today in an effort to save our country," said Texas First Lady Anita Perry. "I can hardly stand it when I see all of you without crying. My children told me not to do that."

The obviously partisan supporters cheered repeatedly, at times offering standing ovations, as Perry unleashed an impassioned recital of his central campaign themes.

"On to victory," Perry said in concluding his address.

Perry repeated his oft-stated vow to "make Washington as inconsequential in your lives as we can" and promised: "Folks, we are going to take America back."

Others present in the packed ballroom at the West Des Moines Sheraton included Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Attorney General Greg Abbott, Comptroller Susan Combs and Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

The political leaders planned to help Perry by appearing at caucuses and making calls. Jindal endorsed Perry early in his campaign and has accompanied Perry on a number of political appearances.

"I'm sure he's going to do great tonight," Jindal told reporters, saying he believes Perry has the momentum to push into other early states after the caucuses. At least two recent polls showed Perry in fifth place, but his supporters contend that Perry gathered strength in a 44-city bus tour and is poised to pull off a surprise.

Perry, a one time Republican front-runner who has never suffered a defeat in an election in Texas, is hoping for at least a third-place finish to boost his candidacy in advance of the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries.

Robert Haus, Perry's Iowa co-chairman, said the Perry campaign will have a presence at nearly all of the 1,700- plus caucuses. Supporters, many of them wearing white Perry T-shirts, will speak in his behalf and work the crowd before the caucuses.

"Perry has a tremendous amount of momentum," said Abbott, who planned to spend the day making calls in Perry's behalf before attending one of the bigger caucuses.

Haus said at least 500 people from 30 states, including Texas, have come into Iowa to bolster Perry's "ground game" in Iowa. Volunteers have contacted over 50,000 Iowans, including 10,000 on Monday, and knocked on at least 1,000 doors, Haus said.

"We've got a good runner with strong legs and he's going to go the distance in this marathon," Haus said at the strike force rally.

Dave Montgomery, 512-476-4294

Twitter: @daveymontgomery

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