Presidential candidate Rick Perry was stone-cold sober during his bombastic, comedic speech in New Hampshire, according to the man who invited the Texas governor to speak and spent much of the evening with him.
"I can tell you unequivocally he wasn’t drinking at the event and he hadn’t been drinking prior to the event," said Kevin Smith, the executive director of Cornerstone Action, the conservative group that hosted the event over the weekend. "I was sitting with him, and I found him to be very engaging with all of the people he was talking with, he was very articulate."
"When I started seeing all of the blog stuff going up on Sunday and the video going viral it caught me by surprise," said Smith. "He was definitely more animated than we’ve seen him during the campaign but the reports that he was buzzed or whatever never crossed any of our minds."
A video featuring clips of Perry's speech went viral this weekend and has since been viewed on YouTube by more than 600,000 people.
The eight-minute video shows a punchy Perry joking about how "cool" New Hampshire's state slogan is, making fun of rival Herman Cain's tax plan and giggling when presented with a bottle of maple syrup from the event's organizers.
Late-night comics and some news anchors, including MSNBC's liberal host Rachel Maddow, said Perry appeared drunk during the speech, and others have speculated he might have been on back-pain medications. But Smith said that despite media reports to the contrary, he thought it was one of Perry's stronger speeches since he became a candidate.
"The people there loved the speech. The reaction I was getting was 'wow, he hit it out of the park' — people were saying that was the Perry they wished they’d see during the debates," he said. "He was loose and passionate. He got a great reaction from the audience."
Watch clips of the speech here: