Back at the Governor's Mansion that put him on a national stage, Rick Perry on Wednesday brushed off suggestions that his second bid for the White House, dogged by financial woes, is in peril.
"I still have as much passion about this country as I did four years ago and will continue to stay out there engaged in the process," the former governor told reporters in Austin during a break from the campaign trail.
The remarks echoed what Perry has been saying for weeks in response to questions about his cash-strapped campaign, which stopped paying staff earlier this month. But they come at a particularly critical time for his White House hopes: His team in Iowa, a state seen as critical to his 2016 strategy, is restructuring in a move that is expected to include layoffs.
"My whole life I've been short of money as probably most people in this country have as well," Perry said. "In fact, we were short of money here in 2003 when I was the governor, so I know how to deal with shortage of money. You cut spending, and you keep a small footprint. This is just a challenge that happens in a lot of places in time."
Among Perry's latest setbacks is the departure of his Hawkeye State chairman, Sam Clovis, to the campaign of real estate mogul Donald Trump. More than any other GOP candidate, Perry has been the most outspoken critic of Trump, calling him a "cancer on conservatism" and dismissing his immigration proposals as unserious.
Trump's ideas include ending birthright citizenship, or the constitutional guarantee of citizenship to children born in the United States, even if their parents are in the country illegally. On Wednesday, Perry continued to decline to say whether he backs getting rid of birthright citizenship, calling it an irrelevant question if the border is secure.
"You secure the border, and birthright citizenship's not even an issue we're going to be concerned about," Perry told reporters.
Perry's remarks came after a ceremony in which his successor, Gov. Greg Abbott, posthumously awarded the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor to two military heroes, Chris Kyle and Ed Dyess. Perry is scheduled to return to the campaign trail on Thursday with a three-day swing through South Carolina.