SAN ANTONIO — Texas Gov. Rick Perry is calling the nation's economic turmoil a national nightmare. But he's also saying the country's brightest days are ahead.

His optimistic tone in a speech to a conference of state legislators made him sound very much like the GOP presidential candidate he's all but certain to become in the coming days.

Perry promised to work with governors and lawmakers to -- in his words -- return power to the states, where he said it belongs.

He called himself a West Texas optimist during one of the country's darkest hours.

And he said "our brightest hour is just around the corner."