Presidential candidate Rick Perry wrapped up a campaign stop Thursday in Orange County, attending a rally and fundraiser.
Supporters say he walked in the very same spot where Ronald Reagan walked, 35 years ago, when Reagan dedicated Roger's Gardens Nursery and then won the presidential election. Orange County republicans consider that good luck and hope it rubs off.
The appearance, announced Wednesday just hours before his first presidential debate, also presented an opportunity to tap into the state's many Hispanic voters.
In his five minute speech, Perry said he provides more contrast against President Obama than other republican candidates and he took a preemptive strike at the President's speech to Congress. "One in six Americans is out of work. That is not an economic recovery, that is an economic disaster," said Perry. Jon Fleischman, who attended the rally, says, "I think the incumbant President is a wacky left liberal and Perry is common sense so yes he's similar to Ronald Reagan".
Outside, a handful of protesters argued Perry should not be president after calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme and publicly declaring global warming a falicy. "I don't think global warming is an issue for this country. What is? The economy. It's falling into the dirt," says college student Adam Masi.
Perry said if elected he would create a budget just like in Texas. "Principal number one, don't spend more than you have. That's something they could learn in Sacramento," said Perry.
Perry is scheduled to conduct an early-evening fundraising and reception at the Beverly Hills-adjacent home of investor Paula Kent Meehan and a host committee dinner at the home of Realtor Fred Sands.
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Tickets for the fundraisers begin at $1,000. A $5,000 joint donation will get two tickets to a fundraiser and the chance to take a photo with Perry. Under federal law, the maximum individual contribution is $2,500.
Perry has six fundraisers planned up and down the California coast on Thursday and Friday. More than half of Orange County's 1.9 million residents identify as Hispanic or Latino, according to 2010 Census figures.
In 2001, Perry signed the Texas DREAM Act, which provides in-state tuition rates to the children of illegal immigrants. He also opposes construction of a border fence, arguing that it would be impractical.
The nation's growing Hispanic population has become an important demographic for presidential candidates. In 2008, President Barack Obama captured 67% of the population's vote, compared with the 31% going to Senator John McCain, R-Arizona.