Perry, Brownback to CPAC STL: America is debating red state, blue state approaches

Governors Rick Perry and Sam Brownback spoke to the hundreds of activists gathered at CPAC St. Louis.

Governors Rick Perry and Sam Brownback spoke to the hundreds of activists gathered at CPAC St. Louis.

ST. CHARLES, Mo. – A pair of Republican governors told conservative activists gathered at the Conservative Political Action Conference in St. Louis Saturday that states can lead the charge if they want to change the direction of the country.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, in his second visit to the state in as many months, said traveling around the country and touting his state’s economic environment is a positive way to encourage competition and a debate about differing approaches to job creation.

“It helps furthers a conversation that we should be having in this country about red state policies versus blue state policies,” he said. “Washington is not where the answers are going to come from. State capitols are going to be where this is going to occur.”

Perry, who arrived in Missouri on Friday, used the visit to announce the formation of Americans for Economic Freedom, an organization he said he created to “advance economic policies at the state level that promote job growth, business development and economic expansion.”

This trip was his second to the state in recent months, following a campaign stop on behalf of supporters of tax cut legislation vetoed by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon earlier last month. Perry said it was unfortunate that Missouri “didn’t have enough members of the legislature who were willing to stand with the citizens” and pass House Bill 253.

“There are going to be business men and women and look at the decision made in Missouri and say, ‘I’m going to go look somewhere where they really respect what I do – don’t want to over tax, over regulate me, and over regulate me,” Perry said.

Perry, who has made similar economic trips to other states led by Democratic governors, said his trips are simply about encouraging economic competition between states, not promoting himself as a potential 2016 presidential contender.

When asked if he was finished with elected office at the end of his term in 2014, Perry said, “I have no idea.”

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, speaking to the conference later in the afternoon, reiterated Perry’s point in his own remarks to the hundreds of activists gathered for the regional conference sponsored by the American Conservatives Union.

“You have a red state model and a blue state model,” Brownback said. “One of these models will ultimately migrate to Washington.”

Brownback, asked about the so-called economic border war between Missouri and Kansas (where the states are competing for businesses in the Kansas City region), said he would be open to a moratorium between the two states on offering tax credits to lure businesses out of the states.

“I don’t like the idea of subsidizing businesses to move to another state. I am all for competition but I think the better way to compete is tax structure,” he said.

The day long conference featured more than a two dozen conservative speakers rallying the base behind political engagement.

The event opened with remarks from Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who was praised by Tea Party activist and St. Louis-area radio talk show host Dana Loesch for joining Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, during his 21-hour floor speech earlier this week critical of the federal health care law.

“I wish the Show Me State was able to show Mike Lee a little more support on the floor of the Senate,” Loesch said, offering a subtle but noted jab at Sen. Roy Blunt, of whom she was critical earlier this week for not joining Cruz on the floor of the Senate.

For his part, Blunt was among the handful of members from Missouri’s delegation to Washington, D.C., who had to cancel their appearances at CPAC due to their involvement in continuing negotiations over a continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown.

In his remarks, Lee said he was disappointed by the prior week in Washington.

“At times like these we can feel discouraged, but we can’t let ourselves dwell on that very long,” he said. “It may appear to us at some times and moments that Washington has the upper hand, but fear not – the American people will always have the final word.”