Could the self-described "most conservative" Republican presidential candidate run and win in California? Rick Perry says he could, and plans to should he win his party's nomination.
The Texas governor is expected to formally announce his candidacy in the next week, a process that will begin with stops in the early-voting states of South Carolina and New Hampshire on Saturday.
In a new interview with Time magazine's Mark Halperin, Perry said he's now getting comfortable with the notion that "this is what I'm supposed to be doing."
"I've got the calmness in my heart," he said.
Perry outlined the foundation of his campaign, saying he'd pursue in Washington the same course he's followed in Austin for the past decade: keep spending and taxes low, have a fair and "predictable" regulatory climate, and, in his words, "have a legal system that doesn’t allow for over-suing."
That might sound like conservative boilerplate, but Perry said he's delivered and that it's worked -- Texas has weathered the recession "better than any other state from the standpoint of job creation."
Asked if he'd enter the race as the most conservative candidate, Perry said: "Yeah, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that." But the one-time Democrat said his campaign would be grounded in his record and not be about tossing red meat to the faithful.
"I will put [my record] up against anybody who’s running and particularly against this president we have today, whose jobs record is abysmal," he said.
As governor, Perry has fostered a rivalry with California, touting how often he's lured companies to relocate in Texas. Even though Republicans have avoided it in presidential elections other than the occasional fundraising trip, Perry says he thinks he could compete there.
"I'm enough of a realist to know that California is a pretty high hurdle for a Republican. But I'm going to go out there and I'm going to have a story that'll [make] a lot of people -- independents and maybe even some Democrats -- look at me and go, 'That's the type of individual that we can get behind.'"