PERRY, Iowa - In a town that bears the same name he does, Texas Gov. Rick Perry told supporters gathered at the final rally of his bus tour that none of the polls leading up to the caucuses matter: Winning the Iowa caucuses Tuesday night is the only thing that's important.
"The only scoreboard that matters is tomorrow, and it's the scoreboard when the caucuses meet and we win the big Iowa caucus tomorrow. That's the one that matters," Perry, who is polling fifth in the state, said to loud applause and cheers
Missing from his speech was any criticism of his rivals, which has peppered his events throughout the week. Perry, who wore a navy blue fleece with the words "Perry/President" embroidered on the left breast, never once referred to Rick Santorum, whom he's blasted repeatedly since the former Pennsylvania senator surged in the polls while Perry remained stagnant. Instead, Perry focused on selling himself as the "authentic conservative" that voters can choose instead of having to "settle."
"Why would you settle, why would you settle for anything but an authentic conservative that shares your views and values and will go to Washington, D.C., and not apologize one moment for them? You don't have to," Perry said to applause. "You've got a choice, and that choice is in a governor who has a track record of creating jobs, a governor who has been pushing back on Washington, D.C., with the help of my colleagues in the Senate and the House, and we understand how to compete."
Accompanied by his family, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and country music legend Larry Gatlin, Perry spent a substantial portion of his speech speaking emotionally about supporting the country's veterans and two of his supporters who survived traumatic experiences while serving in the military - Capt. Dan Moran and Marcus Luttrell.
"That's part of what this is all about. It's about those young men and women. It's about supporting 'em when they come home," Perry said as he teared up.
Perry traveled to western Iowa earlier in the day as he wrapped up his bus tour through the state. Perry's speeches possessed more energy than they had at recent events, as he tried to close the deal one day before Iowans gather to caucus.
The Texas governor said he hopes his strong organization and volunteer force will propel him to a top-three finish on Tuesday evening. Earlier in the week, he announced plans to bypass New Hampshire after the caucuses and head straight to South Carolina on Wednesday.
Quoting Isaiah's passage from the Bible, "Here am I, send me," Perry ended his caucus eve speech by characterizing his campaign and Iowa caucus goers as partaking in a "mission" to take the country back.
"Will you join me in the mission to hold your hand up and say, 'Here am I, send me' and take our country back?" Perry asked the crowd as he pointed his finger in the air and the crowd followed suit. "That is our challenge. That is our mission and I will make you this one pact. You have my back tomorrow at the caucuses and I'll have your back for the next four years in Washington, D.C. God bless you and God bless this great country of America."