Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) tried to revive his flagging presidential campaign Friday with a major policy speech on jobs and the economy.
“Natural-gas exploration is a game-changer that can bring new opportunities to replace the ones that have been lost,” Perry told a crowd of hard-hat-wearing steelworkers outside Pittsburgh. “Development of natural gas will create jobs in the supply chain and lead to lower energy costs for manufacturers.”
“The plan I present this morning — Energizing American Jobs and Security — will kick-start economic growth and 1.2 million American jobs,” he said. “It can be implemented quicker and free of Washington gridlock because most of it does not require congressional action. Through a series of executive orders and other executive actions, we will begin the process of creating jobs soon after the inauguration of a new president.”
A spokesman for President Obama’s campaign panned Perry’s jobs plan as outdated.
“Governor Perry’s energy policy isn’t the way to win the future, it’s straight out of the past — doubling down on finite resources with no plan to promote innovation or to transition the nation to a clean-energy economy,” spokesman Ben LaBolt said. He claimed Obama’s energy strategy has created “hundreds of thousands” of clean-energy jobs.
Perry’s jobs plan is the first detailed policy proposal offered by the governor since joining the GOP race two months ago. He has been criticized for weeks for not outlining policy specifics, and has slipped from the front-runner in the campaign to third place in most polls behind Mitt Romney and Herman Cain.
A previous speech billed as a major domestic policy address at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation instead focused on campaign red meat, and in Tuesday’s GOP debate, sponsored by Bloomberg and The Washington Post, he was light on policy details as well.
One GOP strategist and Perry supporter told The Hill on Wednesday that he was disappointed with the depth of answers Perry gave at the debate.
“How you don’t have your economic plan ready for a debate on Bloomberg, I don’t know,” the adviser said.
Perry, whose state has boomed despite the economic recession largely because of oil, natural gas and wind energy production, has focused much of his economic approach on criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency and calling for more energy production. Friday’s speech was no different.
This speech was more detailed but did not include any ideas other Republicans haven’t previously proposed. As former President George W. Bush had before him, Perry pushed for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and on federal lands in the Western states. He also said that as president he would build a crude oil pipeline from Canada, roll back EPA regulations on carbon emissions and renew oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico and off Virginia’s coast.
Perry went further than some Republicans in Congress, calling for an end to industry-specific tax credits, although he did say that research and development for green energy should retain its tax credits.
But the Texas governor did work in his view that states should be able to make their own decisions, saying that if they opposed drilling for oil or gas, he would “respect” their decisions. He also ruled out energy exploration in the Everglades, a controversial issue among Republicans in Florida, an important state because of its early primary.
Perry said he does not accept the premise that “we must choose between energy and the environment” and called for more investment in wind energy, but said that the best way to let it develop is to let the private sector work on it.
Andrew Restuccia contributed.
— This post has been updated from an earlier post at 9:17 a.m.