AUSTIN (AP) — As his lagging, cash-strapped campaign heads back to South Carolina, Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry said Wednesday that he has been “short of money” his whole life.
The trip will end another difficult week for the former Texas governor, who, despite resuming payments to some staffers who lost their salaries earlier this month amid sluggish fundraising, lost the chairman from his Iowa operation. That staffer resigned this week over what he said was uncertainty over future paychecks.
Perry shrugged off money woes while looking relaxed at the place where he was most powerful: the Texas governor’s mansion, where he lived 14 years and returned Wednesday for a military awards ceremony.
“My whole life I’ve been short of money, as probably most people in this country have as well,” Perry told reporters. “I know how to deal with shortage of money. You cut spending and you keep a small footprint. This is a challenge that happens in a lot of places in time. I still have as much passion about this country as I did four years ago.”
In 2012, Perry’s first presidential campaign started with great fanfare and strong fundraising, but collapsed quickly amid a series of gaffes and poor debate performances. This time around, he has struggled to attract both donors and attention in a crowded Republican field.
Outside super PACs that support Perry have amassed almost $17 million. The groups aren’t allowed to coordinate directly with Perry’s campaign, but have hired their own Iowa staff and can continue to get his message out in that state and others.
He is scheduled to return to South Carolina on Thursday and has appearances slated there through the weekend.
Perry also deflected questions about whether he supports ending birthright citizenship, saying that attention on the issue was a symptom of a larger border security problem. Republican front-runner Donald Trump has proposed ending automatic citizenship to children of people in the U.S. illegally, a plan that the businessman’s rivals see as an impractical effort.
“You secure the border, and birthright citizenship is not even an issue that people are going to be concerned about,” Perry said.
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