Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry stepped back onto the national stage on Thursday to accuse President Barack Obama of "hysteria" over the sequester -- and to make a not-so-subtle swipe at Mitt Romney, who beat him in the 2012 primary.
"The popular media narrative is that this country has shifted away from conservative ideas, as evidence by the last two presidential elections. That’s what they think, that’s what they say," Perry told the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday afternoon. "That might be true if Republicans had actually nominated conservative candidates in 2008 and 2012."
Perry was referring in part to Romney, who struggled for years to win over the conservative activists that populate gatherings like CPAC. Romney is slated to speak again to the gathering on Friday.
Perry's speech at the confab -- for years a draw for conservative politicians with national aspirations -- was the first of several scheduled for 2012 GOP hopefuls who lost to Romney.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is scheduled to speak, as is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Texas Governor Rick Perry delivers remarks at CPAC Thursday, while stressing his views on how America can become a more prosperous nation.
In his speech, Perry criticized Obama for playing politics with the sequester.
"What we are getting is a lot of hysteria," he said. "We're getting a lot of hysteria right now from a president more concerned about the next election than saving programs like Medicare."
Perry singled out the government's decision to release more than 2,000 illegal immigrants because of budget concerns related to the sequester.
"This president's posture, it'd be laughable if he hadn't taken it one step too far, dangerously releasing criminals onto our streets to make a political point," Perry said of Obama. "When you have a federally-sponsored jailbreak -- and don't get confused, that's exactly what that is -- when you've had a federally-sponsored jailbreak, you've crossed the line from politics of spin to politics as a craven form of cynicism."
Perry criticized the Medicaid expansion that's included as part of Obama's health care plan -- an expansion that several Republican governors have accepted in other states, including Florida and Michigan.
"The Medicaid expansion amounts to one large, incremental step towards single-payer socialized medicine. That’s where we headed and I for one will not accept that as long as I’m governor of the state of Texas," he said.