Rick Perry Says He's the Leader America Needs

The former Republican governor of Texas had President Obama, not Hillary Clinton, on his mind Friday.

Rick Perry's approach to the 2016 election is one that journalists have used for decades.

"It's going to be a 'show me, don't tell me' election," the potential presidential candidate said Friday, "where voters look past what you say to what you've done."

The former Texas Republican governor used his speech at the National Republican Convention Leadership Forum to lay out his triumphs as an executive and future plans for the country. He said his brand of governing is the kind of leadership the American people need in the White House.

Perry didn't address the impending Hillary Clinton presidential candidacy, like other NRA speakers before him. Rather, he took on President Obama, contrasting their leadership styles. Perry said Obama epitomizes "the delusional thinking of the left" in American politics.

"The rest of us subscribe by reality-based thinking, where terrorist regimes must be defeated by strength, not words; where radical nations should not be appeased, but should be opposed; where the best defense against crime is an armed citizenry," Perry said. "It's time to tell the American people the truth: The Obama administration is isolating our allies and emboldening our enemies."

He cited a handful of broadly defined policy goals—secure the border, rebuild the military, reassert U.S. power overseas, grow the economy at home—and implied that his experience in Austin qualifies him to be the "new leadership" America needs.

"Nobody handed me a manual," Perry said, for how to handle people fleeing Hurricane Katrina, the diagnosis of Ebola at a Houston hospital, and the influx of thousands of Central American children to the Texas border.

Before getting to his presidential pitch, Perry appealed to the NRA crowd as a "lifelong" advocate for the right to bear arms. During his last reelection campaign as governor, Perry received an A+ rating and an endorsement from the organization.

He described how Texans of yore fought to keep their weapons under duress—a fight he's probably familiar with.

After Perry was indicted in August on two felony charges related to abuse of power, he lost his license to carry a concealed weapon in public. And while Perry may spend time at the NRA convention admiring the "nine acres of guns" on display, he won't be able to buy any to add to his collection—so long as he's under indictment, federal law forbids him from purchasing firearms.

Perry told The Texas Tribune in February that he approves of "appropriately" administering background checks to gun owners, as well as proper training. And he said he isn't "necessarily all that fond" of open-carry laws—but not because he doesn't want people displaying firearms.

Rather, "I don't want the bad guys to know if I'm carrying," he said then. "I don't want to be the first person shot if something's going down."