Perry: Don’t ‘place purity ahead of unity’

Texas Gov. Rick Perry struck a moderate tone in a farewell address to the Texas legislature that could very well double as a presidential stump speech if the potential 2016 contender eventually decides to jump in the race.

Perry, a conservative favorite that fell largely off the map following his failed and blundering 2012 presidential run, mixed concrete details on Texas’ economic strength under his watch with sweeping comments about the “endless possibilities” in his state.

He tacked to the center in the speech, touting his accomplishments greening Texas and striking a compassionate note on drug and alcohol addiction.

And in comments that may just as well have been directed at the GOP as a whole, Perry declared: “Compromise is not a dirty word if it moves Texas forward.”

“Do not place purity ahead of unity,” he added.

Despite the largely moderate tone, however, he threw red meat to conservatives on immigration, framing Texas as the last stand for a nation beset by threats from its neighbor to the South.

“Texas has done more to secure the border than any other state in the nation — and as long as Washington will not secure the border, Texas will be up more than up to the task,” he promised.

Perry also outlined economic accomplishments under his watch, including a budget surplus and billions left in a rainy day fund, and touted his efforts to make Texas a cultural hub.

With 14 years under his belt, Perry leaves office the state’s longest-serving governor, and Texas’ economic and cultural strength under his watch would be a key factor in his presidential pitch if he decides to make another bid for the White House.

He’s made no secret of his interest, and will join a handful of his potential opponents — including 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney — in speaking to the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting this week.

During his Thursday speech to the legislature, Perry offered a taste of what his presidential stump speech could look like, offering sweeping rhetoric about the promise of Texas that could’ve easily been referencing the country as a whole.

Speaking about the crises that have battered the state during his tenure, including multiple hurricanes, the border crisis and Ebola, he declared that “each time Texans have responded to these tests with great character.”

“As long as there has been a Texas, there has existed a people whose character has been refined by fire, whose souls are resilient, who respond to tragedy with grace, who look to the future with hope — what we have done together is preserve Texas as a land of opportunity,” Perry added.

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