Mary Ann Chastain, Associated Press
DES MOINES, Iowa — Rick Perry promises to create at least 2.5 million new jobs in his campaign's first television advertisement as he seeks to refocus his struggling GOP presidential bid on his economic successes as Texas governor.
"I know something about that," Perry says about job creation in the ad. "In Texas we've created over 1 million new jobs while the rest of the nation lost over 2 million."
Perry is using the 30-second spot, which is launching Wednesday in Iowa, to introduce himself anew as a serious threat to national poll leader Mitt Romney.
The ad reinforces Perry's strategy to claim the GOP field's economic mantle from Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, who is making his decades as a private sector executive the centerpiece of his second bid for the Republican nomination.
Meanwhile, the ad also raises an issue important to conservatives: increasing domestic energy exploration.
"I'll eliminate President Obama's regulations that hurt other sources of domestic energy, like coal and natural gas," Perry says in the ad. "That will create jobs and reduce our reliance on oil from countries that hate America."
The ad completes a rapid, three-part effort by Perry to reignite his campaign with Iowa's caucuses just 10 weeks away.
After rocketing to the top of national polls after entering the race in mid-August, Perry's national poll numbers tumbled in the past month after poor debate performances and despite posting a robust quarterly fundraising that saw him banking $15 million for the stretch run to the early states.
Perry must do well in Iowa if he is to pose a threat to Romney in early-voting states New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida. Perry is campaigning aggressively in Iowa, where Romney has kept a low profile but has recently stepped up his effort and spoken of winning in the state he finished a disappointing second four years ago.
This week Perry announced he was reinforcing his campaign staff with veteran consultants after launching his campaign with longtime Texas political aides.
And Tuesday Perry proposed a sweeping tax and entitlement package that included among its main features a flat income tax, optional private accounts for Social Security and a lower corporate tax rate.
Perry, who has signaled that attack ads will be fair game, begins on a positive note and underscores what has been the central theme of his campaign, that Texas' robust job growth is a national model.
Perry argues on the campaign trail that Texas' 1 million new jobs during his 10 years as governor are due in part to his administration's agenda to lower taxes and streamline regulations, plus lawsuit reform.
The job-creation surge is more complicated and also is due to Texas' low cost of living, location and luck, experts say. Romney has sought to play down Perry's hand in the growth, while Perry has contrasted it with the nation's troubling job losses.
With 14 million unemployed in the United States, Perry's promise of 2.5 million new jobs would leave unemployment still high at 7.5 percent, but certainly better than the 9.1 percent it is today.
The nation has 6.6 million fewer jobs than it did when the recession began in 2007. Since the economy began adding jobs in March 2010, the nation has gained 2 million jobs.
The last time 2.5 million jobs were added was from February 2006 to December 2007, when the country gained nearly 2.6 million.
Perry strikes an optimistic and confident tone in the ad, a contrast with his at-times awkward and halting statements during a series of five debates since Labor Day where he admitted to underperforming.
The ads feature a smiling Perry looking directly into the camera, with shots of construction sites and energy installations and backed by a musical background of upbeat strings.
Associated Press writer Christopher S. Rugaber in Washington contributed to this report.
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