Rick Perry's back, and doing his best Clint Eastwood impression.
"If it's halftime in America," he said, invoking the "Dirty Harry" actor's recent appearance in a controversial Chrysler ad during last weekend's Super Bowl -- "I'm fearful of what the final score is going to be if we let this president start the second half as quarterback."
In his second public appearance since dropping out of the presidential race, Perry quipped at today's conservative CPAC gathering that the clock ran out on his own presidential campaign as well.
"Aggies never lose," he said, referencing the mascot of his alma mater Texas A&M. "We just run out of time. So you can say that my presidential campaign just ran out of time. But I haven't run out on the ideas."
While he warned against settling for a new president would would simply "tinker" with existing policies, Perry did not mention any remaining GOP candidates by name.
That omission included Newt Gingrich, whom he endorsed when he dropped out of the race in North Charleston on Jan. 19. Perry also didn't mention the former House Speaker during a speech in Austin last week.
In warmly received remarks to the conservative confab Thursday, Perry revisited many of his rhetorical highlights from his campaign, including populist anti-corruption tones and a harsh critique of President Barack Obama's "war on religion."
The Texas governor won limited traction last year when he slammed the Obama administration for its clashes with Catholic bishops over federal funding, but the issue is now the subject of searing debate after the White House's controversial mandate for most employers to provide copay-free health coverage for birth control prescriptions.