Yesterday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) spoke to a meeting of the Midland County Republican Women. He used his speech to portray himself as a stalwart right-wing candidate and endear himself to the Tea Party activists, since he’s locked in a tough fight with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) for the GOP gubernatorial nomination for 2010. In his remarks, Perry accused the Obama administration of trying to single out Texas for special punishment and urged activists to stage even bigger Tea Parties:
PERRY: This is an administration that I see punishing this state. I say it’s time for us to stand up. I say it’s time to make Tea Parties twice as big as what they were. [...]
If you don’t think those Tea Parties really worked, let me tell you something: When they all came home in August and were going to different places and town hall meetings, they got an earful. Then they went back to Washington, DC, and the Senate voted that public option down in Senate committee, with a majority Democrats in the Senate and that committee. You better believe they’re listening.
This is an administration hellbent on taking America toward a socialist country, and we ought not to be afraid to say that.
For months, Perry has been working to bone up on his Tea Party bonafides and appeal to the right wing. He awarded hate radio host Rush Limbaugh with an “honorary Texan” award, signed onto the tenther movement to oppose health care reform, and famously floated Texas seceding from the United States to get away from Obama.
There’s no evidence that the Obama administration is out to “punish” Texas. In his Midland speech, Perry complained “that the federal government plans to dump illegal aliens arrested in California and Arizona along the border” and in the Travis County address, he added that it refuses to give him funding for 1,000 more border patrol agents. But as the Texas Tribune noted, Perry could authorize state money for that purpose at any time.
The federal government has tried to give Texas assistance — such as $555 million in stimulus funds for expanded unemployment benefits (which Perry rejected) and has received federal disaster assistance more times than any other state.