Ina Fried

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry Drops In on South by Southwest

Pictures of Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney scroll by as the crowd waits for Rick Perry to take the stage.

I’m new to SXSW, but this wasn’t exactly the vibe I expected.

But, if I’ve learned anything in the last few hours in Austin, it’s that anything goes at this conference, which blends, tech, film, music and more. CNN invited the Texas governor to its “grill” to go behind the scenes on his now-ended run for the White House.

Things started with Perry talking about his campaign for president and how he came to operate his own Twitter account.

“It made a lot of sense, particularly for reaching into the younger community, my kids’ age,” Perry said, noting that he used it during his campaign for Texas governor. “This is the name of the game.”

He noted that it allows political candidates to bypass the mainstream media.

“I don’t think that, I know that,” he said. “Nobody has got a lock on what’s happening, what’s news.”

The CNN moderator also relived some highlights of Perry’s campaign, including his dozen debates and now-infamous “oops” moment where he couldn’t remember the three federal agencies he would eliminate.

“Thank you,” Perry said, clearly happy to relieve that moment. The many debates, he noted, were a double edged-sword.

“We were getting loaded rich,” he said. At the same time, he noted that it had changed the nature of presidential campaigning.

Asked to predict whether Romney would be the nominee, Perry said it was too soon to tell, noting that a brokered convention remains a possibility. In that case, he said, Gingrich, whom Perry endorsed, still stands a chance.

“I’m not wringing my hands and going ‘Oh my God, we’ve got a nominee,’ ” he said.

It took a bit, but Perry did manage to work in a plug for the fact that Apple is doing a bunch of hiring in Texas as it expands its operations in Austin.

Perry showed up to Friday’s event with his arm in a sling, the result of orthopedic surgery to help heal from a mountain biking accident from a few years ago that didn’t heal.

“It didn’t look that steep,” he joked.

Ahead of Perry’s appearance, CNN’s Peter Hamby talked with political operatives on both sides of the aisle about how tech is transforming the electoral process. As much as we hear about online fundraising and campaigning, both representatives agreed that politics is still a huge laggard.

The reason, said Democratic consultant and Ruck.us co-founder Nathan Daschle, is that most people are only going to run for office once in their life and as a result are reluctant to try anything new.

“We still spend so much money on direct mail,” said Daschle, son of the former senator. “People are just now spending money on technology.”

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