He burst into the Republican presidential field with typical Texan bravado, corralling attention from his rivals and promising to "work every day to make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as I can." And while many Republicans wait for another contender, supporters of Texas Gov. Rick Perry say his jobs record is all that matters when the country is mired in economic crisis.
"Everything else is a lesser priority," said A.K. Desai, a St. Petersburg health care executive who is hosting Perry's first Florida fundraiser on Sept. 13.
Less than two weeks into Perry's campaign, a Gallup poll shows him leading the pack with 25 percent support among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents. That's 11 points ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Never mind that Perry, previously a Democrat, campaigned for Al Gore's 1988 presidential run, raised eyebrows by saying if Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke orders the printing of more money it amounts to treason, and implied that Texans might get so fed up with Democratic actions in Washington that they would clamor for secession.
Since Perry became Texas governor 11 years ago, the state has added 850,000 jobs, more than all other states combined.
That's the crux of his campaign and the mantra of his backers.
"I can't tell you that I understand the entire recipe, but I believe that Perry has an eye for developing an environment in which jobs can be created and people can get to work," said Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, Florida's next Senate president, who endorsed Perry hours after he declared but has never met him.