Nashua, New Hampshire (CNN)Rick Perry is trying to make it clear that the next Republican presidential nominee needs to be a governor, not a first-term senator like the three candidates who currently make up the GOP field.
Rick Perry hits Republican presidential candidates over experience
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While the former Texas governor was in New Hampshire on Thursday, he praised Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio for being great public speakers, but insisted that they didn't have the experience necessary to be President.
"Do you want to take a chance on someone who doesn't have an executive track record of being an executive? When you walk off the Senate floor, you walk off the Senate floor," he told reporters in Nashua. "You don't walk away from things when you're governor. You have to deal with things."
His comments came shortly after meeting with local business leaders for lunch at the Nashua Country Club, where he argued Americans are realizing they've already taken a chance on a "young, inexperienced senator," a reference to President Barack Obama.
Perry, who hasn't yet announced whether he plans to run for president in 2016, tried to underscore his point using an analogy that likened him to an old pilot.
"If you're flying from Boston to London, you want to be flying with somebody that gives a heck of a good presentation on aerodynamics and why the airplane stays in the air, that has you on the edge of your seat with excitement because they're such a great speaker ... but they got 150 hours of flying time? Or do you want to be with that grizzled, old, 20,000-hour captain who's taken that airplane back and forth thousands of times safely?"
Obama, who was 47 years old when he was elected, was roughly the same age as Rubio (43), Cruz (44) and Paul (52). Asked by reporters whether he thinks age will become a factor in the GOP presidential race, the 65-year-old Perry joked that he's now "filling out (his) Medicare card program."
"So I hope they don't hold my age against me," he added.
As governor of Texas for 14 years, Perry has been using his long tenure as a key selling point on the trail, highlighting the jobs created in the state and the tort reform that he helped push through.
"That record is, I think, incomparable with anyone standing on stage with me," he said.
The governor-versus-senator storyline is one that will likely be amplified as more candidates—many of them governors and former governors themselves—start getting in the race. In an interview that aired Thursday morning, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also pointed to Obama as an example of taking a chance on a young senator.
"While I have great respect for a number of those folks, I don't believe that we've done well with the experiment of a one-term U.S. senator being President of the United States," he said on NBC's "Today."
As the senators have announced their campaigns over the past few weeks, they've had to answer questions about their experience. Paul points to Jimmy Carter as an example of a governor-turned-president who wasn't popular and argues that people "should be judged on their entire character."
Rubio said on Fox News Monday night that Obama was a "backbencher" when he was in the Illinois state legislature, while he "was in leadership all nine years" in the Florida state legislature, including two years as House speaker.
Cruz also used the "backbencher" term in an interview with CNN's Dana Bash, but this time to describe Obama's time in the U.S. Senate. "He had not been leading on issues of any significance. In my time in the Senate, you can accuse me of being a lot of things, but a backbencher is not one of them."
Perry was scheduled to hold two more events in New Hampshire on Thursday, and speak at the state GOP's summit this weekend along with the three official candidates and a host of other potential contenders.
After his failed bid in 2012, Perry has been aggressively trying to remake his image and launch a more prepared campaign, spending the past three years studying up on foreign and domestic policy while holding meetings with experts and think tanks.
"The preparation and being able to speak about that from a knowledgeable base is very, very important, and I didn't do that in 2011 and 2012," Perry said. "I parachuted in late in the process. I did zoom up to the top of the polls within a short period of getting in the race, and I tell people it was the most exhilarating three hours of my life."