March 7, 2014 11:15 AM EST

Texas Gov. Rick Perry brought life to a sleepy crowd at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, with a barn-burner address filled with red meat for the audience.

Perry, a 2012 presidential contender whose campaign quickly collapsed once he became a front-runner, has been working to rehab his image among Republicans and voters nationally in preparation for a potential run in 2016. At CPAC, Perry sold the crowd on his vision for a smaller, more efficient federal government.

“It is time for Washington to focus on the few things the constitution establishes as the federal government’s role, defend our country, provide a cogent foreign policy, and what the heck, deliver the mail, preferably on time and on Saturdays,” he said, drawing loud rounds of applause. “Get out of the health care business, get out of the education business, stop hammering industries, let the sleeping giant of American enterprise create prosperity again.

“My fellow conservatives, the future of this nation is upon you,” he added. “It belongs to you.”

Perry opened his speech saying “it’s time for a little rebellion on the battlefield of ideas,” laying out the successes under his watch in Texas, which has undergone an economic boom.

Perry has sought to recast himself as a conservative intellectual force—a far cry from the “oops” moment that came to define his 2012 campaign.

See a transcript of Perry speech below:

More Must-Read Stories From TIME

Contact us at

Read More From TIME
You May Also Like