CONCORD, N.H. -- Rick Perry said Friday that he does not regret keeping the birther issue alive and soft-pedaled reports that he will skip future Republican presidential primary debates.
Perry came to the state capitol building in the first-in-the-nation primary state to file his papers as a presidential candidate, and then sat down at a desk in a state elections office room to answer questions from journalists. It was a rare press availability with the Texas governor.
Perry said he did not regret calling birther speculation about President Barack Obama's citizenship a "good issue to keep alive."
"I don't consider making fun of something being a mistake," Perry said, and then sought to downplay the significance of the issue.
"The president's the president. That's a fact," Perry said.
Perry also gave the impression that he plans on taking part in some, if not most, of the debates in the months ahead. His campaign aides have raised the prospect of him skipping some of them and Perry himself has said he thinks the forums are intended to trip up the candidates rather than help voters discern where candidates are on the issues.
"I don't know whether or not we'll forego any debates or not," Perry said. "There's going to be a lot of debates. I may get to be a good debater before this is all over."
As for his commitment to New Hampshire, where Perry is floundering in the polls, the governor said he still thinks he has a chance in the Granite State.
"I'm here to win," he said.
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