Rick Perry Un-Phased By New Hampshire, Saying South Carolina Picks Presidents

New Hampshire’s Republican presidential primary favored Mitt Romney, and the presidential hopeful made a fairly inspiring speech to celebrate his victory. Rick Perry. by contrast, finished dead last. But the Texas governor isn’t worried. He has his sights set on South Carolina, fixing a tent pole in the state that he says determines future presidents.

Speaking to roughly 55 people in Lexington’s Lizard Thicket restaurant, Perry said that Iowa was “interesting”, that New Hampshire was “a fine place”, but that South Carolina is where the game is at.

“South Carolina is who picks presidents,” he said. He’s not wrong. Since 1980, every winner of the GOP primary in South Carolina has earned the coveted nomination. Perry stressed the importance of limited government intevention, saying: “I’m going to make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as I can make it,” and also criticized NH winner Romney and his work with Bain Capital, saying: “I understand the difference between venture capital and vulture capitalism.” Romney consistently touts Bain Capital as a resume piece for job creation, though his opponents say he killed jobs with the private equity firm.

Further stressing the importance of capitalism, Perry stated:

“The idea that you come in and you destroy people’s lives, the idea that you come in just to make a quick profit, tear these companies apart, I understand restructuring. I understand those types of things,” he said. “But the idea that we can’t criticize someone for these get-rich schemes is not appropriate from my perspective.”

He touted his own record of job creation in Texas, his desire to eliminate federal departments of Commerce, Education, and Energy, and the importance of a strong U.S. military. Though not mincing words for opponent Romney, Perry also had a fair amount of criticism for President Obama, calling his entire presidency a three-year experiment in Keynesian economics:

“You’ve got to ask yourself, are you better off today than you were four trillion dollars ago?”

David Pair, a regional trucking company manager and self-described “die-hard Republican”, was among Perry’s audience.

“He’s from the South, and Republican governors seem to do well,” he said. “Texas is a country all its own there. He’d done well, and they seem to like him.”

He continued, himself nonplussed at Perry’s last-place showing in New Hampshire, reasoning that voters there weren’t likely to pick a Southerner:

“I just hope Perry does well here so it doesn’t end here,” he said.

Like him or not, Perry is animated as ever (or perhaps finally coming to life) and seems to be at his best away from cameras and speaking directly to the people. Maybe there’s life in this candidate yet.

What do you think? Is Rick Perry’s last-place New Hampshire showing the death-knell of his campaign?