Video: Rick Perry brings down the house at CPAC

Watch it all if you have time — it’s shorter than most CPAC speeches — or skip to around 10:00 for the big, and I mean big, finish. Nearly every media observer who watched it was taken aback by the crowd’s reaction. He’s firing some very, er, hot gas at the end here.

It’s not too late, you know.

“I’m comfortable that we’re leaving [the governor’s office] at an appropriate time,” he says. “I still think I’ve got a passion for what I do. I’ve got 11 months left. I’ve got a deal that I’m working on. I got lots of deals that we’re going to be working on.”

Those “deals” Perry refers to are attempts to woo companies to relocate or expand in Texas, a major component of his economic development scheme. As Fred Barnes reported for THE WEEKLY STANDARD last year, Perry’s recovered from his self-admitted “humbling” presidential campaign by running another campaign—this one on selling Texas’s low-taxes, low-regulation, business-friendly regime as a prescription for the nation’s economic ailments. It may also be the basis for a second presidential run in 2016, to which Perry remains open. (“If I decide to be a candidate in the future” is how he discusses it.)

But as governor, his legacy in Texas may be that as a faithful and vigorous steward of the state’s economic health during a period of plenty of uncertainty and turmoil. The Lone Star State weathered the recession better than nearly every other state, and it has one of the country’s lowest unemployment rates. It’s not just the state’s standby energy industry that’s contributing to Texas’s good fortunes; tech companies like Facebook and Dropbox have recently expanded here, too.

I wrote about his 2016 prospects a few weeks ago. No one else in the field, save for Scott Walker, will make his economic record as central to his presidential pitch. That’s a nice advantage to have in a country that’s spent six years sagging. I just don’t know if GOP voters will give him a second chance given the perception two years ago that he wasn’t ready for primetime. I don’t think he has to worry as much next time about being seen as a sellout on immigration reform measures like DREAM; nearly every big name in the party has moved left on that since 2012, and besides, people who want a whipping boy for amnesty will probably have Rubio in the field as an outlet. He’s got to seize whatever opportunities he can over the next year to grab righties’ attention and convince them that he’s a different, more self-assured candidate than they saw last time. Mission accomplished today.