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August 13. 2011 9:19PM

After declaring candidacy, Perry speaks to Granite State audience


Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks to supporters in the backyard of New Hampshire Deputy House Speaker Pam Tucker's home in Greenland during his first campaign stop in New Hampshire after announcing his presidential run on Saturday. (JASON SCHREIBER)

GREENLAND — Standing along the side of an in-ground swimming pool, Texas Gov. Rick Perry vowed to put Americans back to work during his first campaign stop in New Hampshire Saturday night after announcing his run for president.

Perry's arrival in New Hampshire came just hours after he officially declared his candidacy in South Carolina.

With his wife, Anita, and his two children by his side, Perry spoke to supporters — and others who still wanted to know more about him — at a reception in the back yard of Deputy House Speaker Pam Tucker's home.

The 61-year-old Republican candidate said he felt at home in a state with a “Live Free or Die” motto, but insisted, “You can't live free if you've got a federal government that takes over one-sixth of our economy like they're trying to do with health care. You can't live free knowing that your children are going to inherit a mountain of debt. You can't live free if you don't have the dignity of having a job or the income to take care of your family.”

Much of his campaign speech centered on jobs.

Americans are being told the nation is in a recovery, he said, adding that it hardly feels like a recovery to those who are still out of work.

“One in six work-eligible Americans cannot find a full-time job. This is not a recovery, this is an economic disaster,” Perry said.

Tucker spoke of Perry's efforts to put Texans back to work, saying he created more jobs than any other governor.

“This is the type of leadership that our country needs now more than ever,” said Tucker, whose campaign event turned into a family affair with her 13-year-old daughter, Katie, and their German exchange student helping to serve hors d'oeuvres to guests.

As president, Perry said he would restore the country's good credit and “repeal Obama's one-size-fits-all government-run health care plan.”

Stopping Obamacare “is one of the first things that we have to do as a country and as a people because it will bankrupt this country,” he said.

While Perry found many supporters in the crowd, some weren't ready just yet to give their endorsement.

Tucker's father-in-law, John Tucker Sr., 74, of Plymouth, described himself as a “tentative” Perry supporter, but said he needs to learn more about him as a candidate. He said he wants to find a candidate who can bring the country closer to a balanced budget.

Others were confident that Perry is right for the job.

“I think the governor is the next President,” said Robert Celeste, 50, of Hanover.

Celeste described Perry as a principled candidate who “has the ability to make the hard decisions.”

He also believes Perry could reform Washington “along the lines of Reagan.”

But outside the Tucker home, University of New Hampshire junior Alex Freid, 20, of Newmarket, held a sign that read, “USA is not theocracy.”

Freid stood alone at the end of the driveway to criticize Perry's decision to hold a Christian prayer and fasting rally last weekend.

“The nation becomes a theocracy when the religious and political leaders are the same,” he said.


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