Perry spoke for about 15 minutes and highlighted his record of job creation while governor of Texas. He also attacked Washington D.C., for wasteful spending, and called for the repeal of Obama's health care plan.
For a lot of Americans, Wednesday night's Republican debate was the first chance to see the governor in action.
The Texas governor got into the race just a few weeks ago and quickly jumped to the top of the polls. Not surprisingly, the other candidates took their share of shots at Perry's record.
The eight Republican candidates faced off at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley. From the start, the two frontrunners, Perry and Mitt Romney, went nose-to-nose over their records on job creation.
"Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt," Perry jabbed, referring to Romney's predecessor as Democratic governor in Massachusetts.
"As a matter of fact, George Bush and his predecessors created jobs at a faster rate than you did," Romney shot back at Perry.
Not to be overlooked, the other former governor on the stage, John Huntsman, was quick to jump in. He led the nation in job creation during his term as governor of Utah.
"To my good friend, Mitt, 47th just isn't going to cut it, my friend," Huntsman said, referring to the rank Massachusetts had among the 50 states in creating jobs during Romney's term.
The other hot topic of the debate was social security. Perry has been criticized for calling the program a Ponzi scheme, and he is not backing down.
"It is a monstrous lie. It is a Ponzi scheme to tell our kids that are 25 or 30 years old today, 'You're paying into a program that's going to be there,'" Perry said.
While Perry and Romney stole the show, the other candidates did their best to stay relevant, often by taking shots at President Barack Obama.
"This economy is on life support. We do not need a solution that just trims around the edges," said Herman Cain.
But throughout the night, Perry, as the frontrunner in the polls, got most of the attention, and experts feel his message should play well with Republicans.
"Perry's rhetoric, his language, his record is so perfectly tailored to a Republican constituency. But whether it translates to independents and conservative Democrats, we don't know that yet, because he hasn't even been a candidate for 30 days," said political expert Frank Lutz.
While Perry leads in the polls, it is still very early. For example, at this point in the presidential race four years ago, Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani were the frontrunners.
Perry is staying in Southern California for the next two days to raise money for his campaign.