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Former Republican presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry called for his party to run against Obama this year by adopting the theme “to take this nation back.”

The Texas governor, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, urged a return to core conservative principles of limited government as defined in the Constitution.

He said 2012 presents “the chance to offer a strikingly different view of America than the Democrats.”

“We cannot have a Republican Party that wants to do the same thing the Democrats want to do, but just to spend less money doing it,” Perry said.

Republicans, he said, “can never outspend the liberal Democrats.”

“The choice this year must be whether we are going to return power to the people or concentrate power in Washington,” said Perry.

He also criticized the Obama administration for launching what he characterized as a war on religion.

“I’ve been fighting Washington for 10-12 years, and last year I proudly signed a bill that ended public funding for Planned Parenthood in Texas,” he said. “Where does it say in the Constitution that Washington should run health care?”

Perry insisted that it was within the power of the states to resist an over-reaching Washington.

“We ought either to be true 10th Amendment patriots or strip it out of the Constitution,” Perry told CPAC.

“Our Founding Fathers knew that if we concentrated power in a federal government that we would become the crown of Great Britain.”

Now, he said, Obama “is assaulting the Catholic Church by forcing its pro-abortion agenda against people of faith.”

“The Obama war on religion must be defeated,” Perry declared.

Speaker of the House John Boehner joined the chorus of speakers attacking the Obama administration over demanding the Catholic Church succumb to Obamacare requirements that all faith-based health providers provide contraceptive and abortion services.

“This attack on religious freedom cannot and will not stand,” the Boehner said.

Boehner touted victories in the House that defied Democrat naysayers.

“When I took the gavel from Nancy Pelosi and said we would return to open debates in the House, the Democrats laughed,” he said. “They also laughed when I said we would pass a transportation bill without earmarks – but we did that too.”

Related stories:

Rubio: Obama ‘a terrible president’

McConnell: Obama using radical tactics to divide America

Bachmann scolds Obama for snubbing Israel

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