Midland oilman Clayton Williams home was packed with people of all sectors, from notable politicians to doctors and oil and gas business people, all waiting for the chance to listen and visit with Texas Gov. and now presidential candidate Rick Perry.
Perry, who announced his campaign to run for president on Aug. 13, stopped by Midland at noon Thursday for a private fundraising luncheon. The event was closed to the media.
Perry arrived at Midland Airpark around 11:47 a.m. and quickly moved to Williams’ home near the airpark. Perry arrived at Williams’ home in less than 10 minutes and mingled among the crowd for nearly an hour before speaking for around 15 to 20 minutes.
Perry’s brief speech focused on his record of change and the change that needs to occur in the United States, local radio talk show host and busiinessman Jason Moore said. Moore is also the state republican executive committee man for Senate District 31.
“His message boiled down to one: people are excited to have a candidate with a record of change and not rhetoric of change; and two: fear that President (Barack) Obama would be re-elected, and what that would mean to small business and healthcare,” Moore said.
“There was a very tangible, palpable feel that a continuation of (the) Obama (administration) would be devastating to their worlds,” Moore added.
Moore said many of Perry’s talking points were similar to the same principals he has as governor, including low tax rates and low government spending. Perry also praised Texan leaders like Rep. Tom Craddick for a successful Texas economy.
Perry did not talk about the other republican contenders and rarely spoke about Obama, except on the subject of the Environmental Protection Agency rules and regulations. Obama is proposing four EPA rules, which could cost the economy between $19 billion and $90 billion, the Huffington Post reported.
“He was able to sum it up by telling a lady in South Carolina that the one thing he promised her was that the boot of the federal government would come off the neck of small businesses and entrepreneurs,” Moore said.
Moore described the atmosphere as informal and intimate, with several hundred people packed into Williams’ home.
Alcoholic Beverage Commission chief Jose Cuevas said around 300 people were expected to attend the luncheon. Individuals donated a maximum of $2,500 and couples donated a maximum of $5,000.
Attendees were coming in from as far and Lubbock and El Paso, and were from a spectrum of career fields, Moore said. Though he declined to divulge any names, Moore said there were several politicians from the Permian Basin in attendance.
“Let me put it this way, there were no notable absences,” Moore said.
Moore said Perry arrived without an entourage and slipped into the crowd easily, hugging and shaking hands with people.
“It was a little bit more electric. People were obviously jazzed up,” Moore said of Perry’s arrival.
Perry obligingly shook hands, took pictures and listened to what attendees had to say, before and after his speech, Moore said.
“There really has been so much excitement out there,” Cuevas said. “So many people want to be part of this campaign.”
Cuevas said with Perry’s track record of creating jobs in Texas, he has advantage over the other republican candidates.
“Texas has created more than 40 percent of all the jobs in the last five years. More Fortune 500 companies call Texas home than any other state, and that’s the thing,” Cuevas said. “It’s jobs, jobs, jobs. I don’t think any of the other candidates have that.”
Moore agreed and said Perry was already a hyped figure before he announced his campaign.
“I think clearly there’s every indication he’s the guy to beat,” Moore said. “A lot of politicos who don’t even like Rick Perry say, ‘Underestimate at your own peril.’ ”
“The guy is a relentless campaigner, tireless. He’s a worker when it comes to this,” Moore added.