ROUND ROCK -- If there was any doubt as to Governor Rick Perry's popularity among Texas Republicans, it was hard to detect in the standing ovation the governor received as he arrived for Monday's Reagan Dinner hosted by the Williamson County Republican Party.
The homecoming atmosphere at the Marriott hotel in Round Rock was kicked off by friend and Texas Lt. Gov. Dewhurst.
"He's back," Dewhurst told guests in attendance before introducing Perry for the governor's first speech since suspending his presidential campaign in January.
"Well, I don't know what y'all have been doing for the last six months," Perry joked upon taking the podium. Perry compared his campaign's conclusion to the old Aggie philosophy on defeat.
"You know we've never been outscored, we just ran out of time," the governor laughed.
Jokes aside, Perry wasted little time hitting upon the night's theme.
"We cannot afford four more years of this misguided, socialist policies from President Obama and his administration," Perry said to uproarious applause from the audience that included, among others, State Representative Larry Gonzales and U.S. Senate candidates Tom Leppert and Craig James.
What followed was a return to Perry's classic campaign form, stumping on everything from Texas' record of job growth to the rights of states under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constition.
"I'm going to call Attorney General Greg Abbott and I'm going to say, 'Greg are you ready to sue the federal government again?'" Perry said on the subject of EPA regulations, "And he's going to say, 'I like suing the federal government!'"
The governor also laid into the administration over the Keystone XL pipeline and Planned Parenthood.
"Since I signed that budget, there have been about a dozen Planned Parenthood 'abortion clinics' that have shut down in this state," said Perry. "There are lives that have been saved."
In perhaps the most unexpected moment of the night, Perry tossed out a familiar catchphrase from his presidential campaign.
"I'll continue to work to make Washington, D.C. as inconsequential as I can in your life," Perry said in closing, "And by definition, that means getting rid of of Obama this November."
However if anyone was expecting Perry to offer himself in Obama's place, this time it was not to be.
When Perry announced he was suspending his bid for president, the Texas governor endorsed fellow GOP candidate Newt Gingrich. Perry has yet to state publicly whether he intends to return to the campaign trail to stump for his former rival.