COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Rick Perry, rolling through South Carolina for the first time since officially becoming a presidential candidate, is trying to project a different image from his 2012 presidential run. But is it getting through to the voters?
Perry was out of the 2012 race the week before the South Carolina primary. He cited back surgery and an overall lack of preparedness for his failed campaign. Now, he's trying to get a message to voters, that 2012 Rick Perry stayed in 2012.
Four days after saying he's running for president and fresh off a trip from Iowa, Perry was in Columbia touring the state's military museum, greeting voters at Lizard's Thicket, and promising voters a stronger nation.
"If you elect me president, I promise America will be America again, God bless you thanks for coming out today," Perry said.
Perry addressed the need for a strong US military force and a strong US foreign policy, but also stuck close to remarks he's made before on the US economy, likening the nation's current situation to America under Jimmy Carter in 1978 and 79.
"You all that are old enough to remember 1979 can remember, we were on our back," Perry said.
Perry has hit two of the three early primary states since announcing his presidential candidacy, and has commented over and over that he's much more focused and prepared for a presidential run after failing to make it to the South Carolina primary in 2012.
Voters in the crowd noticed.
"It's a different Gov. Rick Perry, that's for sure," Nicholas Pinelli said.
But at this point, Nicholas says it isn't enough to change his mind about his top choice.
"My top choice would still have to be Jeb Bush only because he's got the best chance," Pinelli said.
But the Iowa Caucus, New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries are still a ways off and Nicholas notes, nothing's set in stone yet.
"Really, anyone who's got a strong set of issues besides their social issues," Pinelli said.
One topic Perry didn't speak about today were jabs Hillary Clinton took at him and other GOP candidates during a speech in Texas last week. The Democratic candidate blasted Republican candidates for supporting voter ID laws. Perry, while he didn't say anything today, did defend voter ID laws over the weekend.