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Rick Perry: California's bad on every front. Vote for me?

PoliticsElectionsRick PerryJerry Brown

Just for the record, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said midway through a 27-minute criticism of California, he wasn’t in Anaheim to criticize California.

That might have come off a tad hollow, given that Perry had already asserted that the state comes in a distant second to his by almost every measure imaginable -- tax rates, poverty levels, business growth, even freedom, by the governor’s sights.

“The purpose of my visit is not to bash California,” he said on the first day of the state Republican Party convention. “This is a wonderful state with great innovative people.”

But, he said, the very “future of the nation” depended on a blunt conversation about which course was best: California’s “big government, protectionist, nanny state” or Texas’ “limited-government, unsubsidized, freedom state.”

Perry’s remarks centered on new jobs for his state’s residents, but they seemed intended to enhance the chances of a new one for him. The governor already has announced that he will not seek reelection and is said to be pondering a second presidential bid.

The first one didn’t end all that well -- entering the race as, essentially, the frontrunner, he stumbled badly and iced his own chances by being unable to remember parts of his own governing proposals during a candidate debate. “Oops” was the grave marker for his hopes.

A second try depends on Perry’s ability to dramatically alter his image. To that end, the governor is coursing across the country with new hipster glasses and a more disciplined approach, taking on Democratic governors’ policies, trying to swipe their state’s jobs, and putting himself prominently in the public eye. A Texas group has aired ads in several areas that depict Perry. He has repeatedly courted gun manufacturers, and, by extension, their influential voter base.

The weekend's convention, at which Perry will deliver Saturday night’s signature address, puts him in close contact with people who, even if the state is a goner for his party in presidential contests, remains a key source of primary votes, activists and, most especially, money.

His only criticism of Republicans came when he was asked about the party’s regular inability to attract Latino voters nationally and in California. “The California Republican Party needs to take a look at their policies, the words that they use,” he said. “I would suggest that that matters.”

Asked why, if his broad assertions were correct, Californians appeared fairly happy with their Democratic governor and the state's economic revival, rising housing prices and dropping unemployment rate, Perry replied: "This isn’t about Jerry Brown."

"The governor is not the issue here,” Perry said. “It’s the policies that are the issue.”

Brown spokesman Evan Westrup took note of the location from which Perry spoke, less than a mile from Disneyland.

“It seems our friend from Texas took a detour to neighboring Fantasyland while in Anaheim today,” Westrup said. “We hope his stay is pleasant. In case you missed it, while Gov. Perry spent his afternoon politicking, Gov. Brown was taking action to bolster the state’s business climate. ... Also, a reminder that California has had 26 consecutive months of job growth.”

Twitter: @cathleendecker

cathleen.decker@latimes.com

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