Texas Gov. Rick Perry is defending a speech he delivered in New Hampshire last Friday, which spurred speculation about what prompted his animated performance: He told the San Francisco Chronicle it was a “pretty typical speech” and, for the first time, said he did not take painkillers or drink alcohol prior to stepping on the stage.
“No. I was just giving a speech,” Perry said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle.
Perry, who underwent spinal fusion surgery in early July, said in the interview that he did not take pain medication or any other substance before speaking at the Cornerstone Action Dinner in Manchester, N.H., on Friday.
On Monday night, The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart parodied the Texas governor’s lively speech, suggesting he was drinking prior to the event.
“I wasn’t that either,” Perry laughed as he spoke with the Chronicle. ”It’s not that I wouldn’t love to sit down with Jon and have a glass of wine – if he’ll buy.”
A YouTube compilation of sound bites from Perry’s speech Friday went viral over the weekend, causing some to raise questions about Perry’s state when he spoke to the crowd of New Hampshire social conservatives.
“I’ve probably given 1,000 speeches. There are some that have been probably boring, some that have been animated, some that have been in between,” Perry said.
“Ask the people who were there,” he said, “not some political opponent who has put a video up. The people there were responding to the speech … clapping at all the right places – and there was a standing ovation at the end.”
On Tuesday, a host of the event rose to Perry’s defense and said the Texas governor did not have a sip of alcohol at the event.
“I can tell you unequivocally he wasn’t drinking at the event and he hadn’t been drinking prior to the event,” Kevin Smith, the executive director of Cornerstone Action, told The Hill. “I was sitting with him, and I found him to be very engaging with all of the people he was talking with, he was very articulate.”
Perry told reporters in Iowa Tuesday that he “felt good, felt great” during the speech that he said was well received by the crowd.
“”It was a great crowd. Good response, and I guess you can do anything you want with a video and make it look any way you want, but I felt good, felt great. I think the message got across very well, so it was a good speech,” Perry told reporters at Drake’s Diner in Des Moines.
The viral video of Perry’s speech has swept across news websites and run on cable news outlets for the past few days, but Perry acknowledged “the world’s changed, with YouTube and everything,” deepening the pressures of a presidential race.
“And I get it, that’s cool,” Perry told the Chronicle. “It’s not my first rodeo.”
“The American people are not confused about what is on their minds. And it’s not whether some political operative takes a video and puts it up on YouTube.”