Former Texas Governor Rick Perry deviated from his stump speech yesterday when addressing the Eagle Forum in St. Louis, telling the audience that while God's will "remains a mystery," some things "have become clear. That is why today I am suspending my campaign for the presidency of the United States." He didn't need to spell out what has been clear for more than a month: Perry lacked the resources to pay for a full campaign staff and ranked too low in the polls to get on the main Republican debate stage.
I would never have guessed that a longtime Texas governor would have trouble raising enough money to be competitive through the early presidential caucuses and primaries.
You can read the full text of Perry's speech on his campaign website. I enclose below what struck me as the most important passages. Without mentioning Donald Trump's name, Perry warned against nominating a candidate who sounds just like the current GOP front-runner.
If Perry's former Iowa campaign chair Sam Clovis had stuck it out, he would now be free to sign on with another candidate without looking like an opportunistic hypocrite. I am in rare agreement with The Iowa Republican publisher Craig Robinson: "loyalty shouldn't be so rare in politics," so "only sign on with a campaign if you are really committed to your candidate's cause."
Excerpts from Rick Perry's remarks to the Eagle Forum on September 11
As Americans we have the power to make the world new again.
But let me issue a couple warnings. First, the answer to a president nominated for soaring rhetoric and no record is not to nominate a candidate whose rhetoric speaks louder than his record. It is not to replicate the Democrat model of selecting a president, falling for the cult of personality over durable life qualities.
Only in Washington do they define fighting as filibustering, leading as debating.
Where I come from, talk is cheap. And leadership is not what you say, but what you do.
Missouri is the "show me state", and this must be a "show me, don't tell me" election, where we get beyond the rhetoric to the record to see who has been tested, who has led and who can be expected to stand in the face of fire.
And for the record, if a candidate can't take tough questions from a reporter, how will they deal with the president of Russia, the leaders of China or the fanatics in Iran?
My second warning is this: we cannot indulge nativist appeals that divide the nation further. The answer to our current divider-in-chief is not to elect a Republican divider-in-chief.
Conservatism is inherently optimistic. It celebrates the power of the individual, it believes in free markets over state-controlled solutions. It knows free individuals can govern their own lives better than centralized government.
Progressives think we need to protect the people from themselves. Conservatives think we need to protect the people from government.
We have had too much government - too many government answers, too much government meddling - all at the expense of individual freedom.
We need to get back to the central constitutional principle that, in America it is the content of your character that matters, not the color of your skin - that it doesn't matter where you come from, but where you are going. In an America blind to color, that champions the individual, that recognizes merit, there is no room for debate that denigrates certain people based on their heritage or origin.
We can secure the border and reform our immigration system without inflammatory rhetoric, without base appeals that divide us based on race, culture and creed.
Let me be crystal clear: for those of us in Christ, our citizenship is first and foremost in God's kingdom, our brothers and sisters are those made in the image of God, and our obligation - after loving God with all our heart, mind and soul - is to love our neighbors as ourselves, regardless of where they come from.
Demeaning people of Hispanic heritage is not just ignorant, it betrays the example of Christ. We can enforce our laws and our borders, and we can love all who live within our borders, without betraying our values.
It is time to elevate our debate from divisive name-calling, from soundbites without solutions, and start discussing how we will make the country better for all if a conservative is elected president.
And let me say, I know something about enacting conservative principles. We have done it in Texas.
During my 14 years as governor, Texas created nearly one-third of all new American jobs. We passed balanced budgets, cut taxes, set aside billions of dollars for a rainy day, and elevated our graduation rates to second highest in the nation.
We did this based on conservative principles: Don't tax too much, don't spend all the money, invest in an educated workforce, and stop frivolous lawsuits at the courthouse.
It can be done, all across America, with the right leadership.
2016 is the most important election of our lifetime. I know we say this every election, but this time it is actually true. It is true because we have had six and a half years of an expanding welfare state, and a contracting freedom state.
There are two visions for America: the government-run welfare state of Washington, New York and California, and the limited government freedom state pioneered in places like Texas.
The centralized state offers more regulations, and less freedom. A world where everything costs more, from college tuition, to the cost of housing, to the price of government.
Their answer to our current economic mess is more government solutions, more tax dollars placed in the hands of bureaucrats, more redistribution schemes, and a shrinking pie for the middle class.
As Margaret Thatcher once said, "the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."
But it doesn't have to be that way. With the right nominee, we can cut taxes on corporations and individuals, unleash growth, create jobs, and lift wages. We can create opportunity by drilling for American energy and selling it around the world.
We can restore our reputation abroad by reasserting our moral authority, by standing with allies like Israel, and standing up to adversaries like Iran.
We can be the America we know in our hearts we are meant to be - a nation of ideas and innovations, a place where freedom flourishes, that special land that the heroes of Normandy died to defend.
Conservative principles applied consistently will make life better for all, but especially minority Americans. More African-Americans are living in poverty since President Obama took office. That's because he offers them government programs, instead of creating new incentives for people to work.
We can improve life for minority Americans. The formula is simple: stop politically correct regulation policies that make housing so expensive for single moms, let low and middle-income Americans keep more of what they make, challenge all kids to exceed in school.
We did that in Texas, and now we have the highest graduation rate for minority students.
For me, the message has always been greater than the man. The conservative movement has always been about principles, not personalities. Our nominee should embody those principles. He - or she - must make the case for the cause of conservatism more than the cause of their own celebrity.
I still believe in the power of that message - a message that offers hope, redemption and solace in the midst of storms.
When I gave my life to Christ, I said, "your ways are greater than my ways. Your will superior to mine."
Today I submit that His will remains a mystery, but some things have become clear.
That is why today I am suspending my campaign for the presidency of the United States.
We have a tremendous field - the best in a generation - so I step aside knowing our party is in good hands, and as long as we listen to the grassroots, the cause of conservatism will be too.
I share this news with no regrets. It has been a privilege and an honor to travel this country, to speak with the American people about their hopes and dreams, to see a sense of optimism prevalent despite a season of cynical politics.