Rick Perry’s Energy Speech: Will it Spark His Campaign?

Having fumbled in two debates, the Texas governor is in need of a spark. Mark McKinnon gauges the heat from his energy speech.

Rick Perry may not have had much energy in the debates, but now he’s hoping energy can re-energize his campaign.

“America needs jobs. America needs energy. And America needs government to get out of the way, so we can have both.” That was the heart of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s address Friday to workers in hard hats at a U.S. Steel plant outside of Pittsburgh, the symbolic home of a nation built on the hopes, dreams, and hard work of blue-collar Americans.

Presenting his Energizing American Jobs Plan to create 1.2 million “good-paying American jobs” by increasing domestic energy production, rolling back unnecessary over-regulation, and eliminating energy-specific subsidies, the GOP presidential contender said the premise of his first 100-day plan was simple: “Make what Americans buy. Buy what Americans make. And sell it to the world.”

The right message that will resonate loudly and in direct contrast to the policies of the current administration. But does Perry have the time needed to sell America on his jobs plan? Or on his plans to come later this week on tax reform, entitlement reform and spending reductions?

Gov. Perry joined the GOP run for the White House with a daunting disadvantage. He was late to the race. The other candidates had a five-month jump on him, or in former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s case, a five-year jump.

As an Eagle Scout, Perry should have known to “be prepared.” But his underwhelming debate performances imperiled a few of his merit badges—and perhaps his chances of winning the Republican nomination for president in 2012.

The longest-serving governor currently with an unmatched record for spurring private-sector job creation, Perry came in as the front-runner but squandered the advantage. And in the vacuum created between Perry’s falter and Romney’s inability to ignite the base, Herman Cain has leapt to the top of the polls, generating huge buzz this week with his 9-9-9 plan.

Volatility is the name of the game this cycle. There is time for Perry to get back in the game. John McCain’s campaign melted down. George Bush lost New Hampshire by 19 points and came back. And a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll released this week shows that among the most conservative voters, and the voters who are most likely to vote, Perry actually leads the field.

Team Perry is now making the right move—trying to taking back control of the narrative to energize a party and a nation hungry for new leadership. He’s trying to relight his fire, and energy is a good place to start.