RICHMOND (WWBT) - If the republican nomination were decided today, he would probably be the man tapped to take on Barack Obama in the race for president. Texas Governor Rick Perry may be the leader in the polls, but there is still a lot of work to do be done before November of 2012.
More than 1100 members of the Virginia GOP dropped more than $50 each to hear Perry speak. However they won't be able to cast a ballot for him until next March.
We are more than a year away from the 2012 presidential election and several months before the first primary voters go to the polls, but Perry was already in full campaign form.
"This campaign is about freedom," he said to loud cheers at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.
And Perry felt free to list off his many accomplishments.
"I have helped to create a million jobs during my tenure as the governor of the state of Texas," he said.
He also took subtle shots at his fellow republican competitors like former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
"Michael Dukakis created more jobs at three times the rate annually than what Mitt did when he was governor," Perry said, during the post event press gaggle.
But his main and consistent criticism was aimed at one target.
"President Obama and I have a clear contrast in the things we believe in," said Perry.
Democrats charge that the Texas governor's stance on issues like social security are too extreme for the general election.
"They are bizarre efforts to fix an non-existent problem," said U.S. Senate candidate and former Governor Tim Kaine. "And we don't need to be scaring our senior citizens like this."
Today's crowd though, was enthusiastic, and gave Perry the look and feel of a front runner. But despite his momentum, he is not ready to take on that mantle completely.
He deferred on a question about Governor Bob McDonnell as a potential running mate saying: "Now that is thinking too far ahead."
But it is a question that will have to be answered the sooner we get to Virginia's primary next March.
You can see extended clips from Governor Perry's press gaggle at DecisionVirginia.com