Rick Perry hosts New York City dinner

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07:05 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Rick Perry hosted a dinner at the posh Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan’s Upper East Side on Monday, marking the former Texas governor’s latest overture to the New York donor class as he mulls a potential 2016 White House run.

The gathering attracted about 40 to 50 guests and there was no fee to attend, two attendees told CNN.

Among the guests were John Catsimatidis, former New York City mayoral candidate and billionaire owner of the grocery chain Gristedes, and CNBC host Larry Kudlow.

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At the dinner, Perry discussed a range of issues including national security, energy policy and the education system, and was also sharply critical of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy decisions.

“He was very critical of Obama not bombing Syria early in the game and not arming the so-called ‘moderate insurgents’ in Syria and also not taking stronger measures regarding ISIS,” Kudlow said.

Perry also discussed his experience in the Air Force, Kudlow said. Catsimatidis told CNN that Perry reiterated to the crowd that his decision on 2016 would come in May or June.

A Perry spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Courting big-name New York donors could prove to be challenging for Perry this cycle – others in the crowded GOP field of potential candidates, like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, are aggressively reaching out to deep-pocketed donors in the finance world.

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Monday evening’s gathering comes several weeks after Catsimatidis hosted an event for Perry in New York City as a part of an ongoing dinner series featuring potential 2016 presidential candidates.

Those dinners, co-sponsored by Kudlow and other economists that make up a group called the “Committee to Unleash American Prosperity,” have aimed to highlight each of the potential GOP presidential candidate’s economic policy views.

Perry also spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., on Friday.

At a private dinner at the Westin Hotel in National Harbor last week organized by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, Perry described 2012 as a humbling experience and vowed that he will be better prepared to tackle the challenges of the campaign trail were he to run again in 2016, two attendees told CNN.