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Perry: 'Stand up' and 'stop apologizing'

NEW ORLEANS -- Rick Perry delivered an unapologetically socially conservative speech before a friendly crowd here.

“We need to stop apologizing for celebrating life,” the Republican Texas governor bellowed at the Republican Leadership Conference in a finger-pointing, finger-wagging and, at times, bombastic, speech.

“Stop apologizing” for wanting to stem the tide of the “entitlement mindset,” he boasted.

“Our opponents on the left are never going to like us, so let’s stop trying to curry favor with them,” he said, before imploring the crowd to “stand up. Let’s speak with pride about our values. Let’s stop this American downward spiral.”

He acknowledged later with a smile, “I’m preaching to the choir here." 

Perry did not address the speculation surrounding his potential run for president and did not take questions after his speech. Instead, after bounding off the stage to chants of, “Run, Rick, run,” pumping his fists, and shaking hands with audience members, he headed backstage and did not reemerge in the hallways here.

Of all the speakers of the three-day confab, Perry was the best-received, even more so than Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who was a close second. Perry got a standing ovation when he took the stage, several times during his speech, and at the end.

“He’s the man,” one man said to a woman right after Perry’s speech.

“Him and Bachmann,” she responded. “That’s the ticket.”