In his first domestic policy speech as a presidential candidate, Rick Perry is outlining his record as Texas governor and accusing rival Mitt Romney of governing Massachusetts the same way President Barack Obama governs the country.
The address, set for Friday at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, discusses Perry's record on health care and the environment. But Perry offers few policy proposals, instead focusing on criticizing Obama, hitting Romney's health care law and opening a more aggressive line of attack on Romney's record on climate change.
"As Republican voters decide who is best suited to lead this country in a new direction by stopping the spending spree and scrapping Obamacare, I am confident they will choose a nominee who has governed on conservative principles, not one whose health care policies paved the way for Obamacare," Perry says, according to prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press.
Perry contrasts Romney's plan with the medical malpractice reform he signed as governor of Texas, and argues that both Romney and Obama have governed more liberally than he has.
"What we are seeing in America today is a conservative awakening, a revival born out of a deep concern that liberals have used the machinery of the federal government to impose a nanny state that limits our freedom and that targets free enterprise," he says.
"I knew when I got into this race I would have my hands full fighting President Obama's big government agenda. I just didn't think it would be in the Republican primary," Perry adds.
The address signals that Perry plans to continue aggressively attacking his chief rival even as he faces some stumbling blocks in his own campaign. After a shaky debate performance, Perry admitted that he used "inappropriate" language when he called Republican rivals "heartless." Perry was defending a Texas law that allows illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at state universities if they meet certain criteria.
As part of the offensive, Perry is turning to Romney's environmental record.
"In Texas, we've cleaned the air while creating jobs and adding millions in population. Another state — Massachusetts — was among the first states to implement its own cap-and-trade program which included limits on carbon emissions for power plants," Perry says in his speech.
Perry also accuses Romney of relying on environmental advisers who went on to work in the Obama administration. Environmental Protection Agency official Gina McCarthy, who works on clean air regulations, helped Massachusetts develop a climate plan when Romney served as governor.
Romney never signed a cap-and-trade plan for Massachusetts, though he did encourage state efforts to protect the environment. Massachusetts participated in discussions about a Northeastern regional cap-and-trade system while Romney was governor, but Romney decided not to join it.
Perry's speech comes as the presidential candidates face an important fundraising deadline Friday in the latest quarter of the campaign cycle.
Later Friday, Perry will head to New Hampshire for a town hall style meeting with voters.