Rock Hill, South Carolina (CNN) - Rick Perry wrapped up his first week in the spotlight as a declared presidential candidate by returning to South Carolina to larger crowds and more questions about his record than when he launched his campaign here last weekend.
The Texas governor did not back down from statements about the validity of climate change, his position on immigration, or his claim that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's quantitative easing plans were "treasonous."
"I'm passionate about the Obama administration's monetary policy" Perry said. "That's what my remarks were about."
Speaking to the media Saturday afternoon for the first time in five days, Perry seemed to welcome scrutiny that comes with being one of the leading GOP contenders for the White House.
"But the fact of the matter is, I'm about representing the American people out here, and the American people are really concerned and scared," Perry added. "Small businessmen and woman are frightened about the monetary policy or the lack thereof with this administration."
As governor of the state that shares the largest border with Mexico, Perry defended his record on immigration, including his support for allowing illegal immigrants to get in-state tuition rates at Texas universities but opposing such a law on a national level.
"I'm a big believer in the 10th amendment," Perry said. "Whether they allow for tuition increases or decreases or whatever it might be in that state, it needs to be the states making that decisions."
Perry wouldn't wade into a national immigration reform debate, deferring to his position that those decisions should be made on the state level, "not by the federal government making one size-fits-all."
But he added, "Once we secure the border we can have a conversation about immigration reform."
Perry also believes in a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants serving in the military.
"I think that is a very unique set of individuals and different than folks who come here illegally and not given back in that particular way," he said.
As for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Perry disparaged President Barack Obama's withdrawal strategy.
"I think the president made a huge mistake by signaling the enemy that we're gonna leave at particular time," Perry said. "That's bad public policy but more importantly, it put our kids in harms way."
But the former Air Force pilot didn't offer a strategy of his own, other than to say "we need to start having thoughtful conversations with those commanders in the field" before making withdrawal decisions.
In his short stump speech at Tommy's Country Ham House in Greenville on Saturday morning, Perry said, "We may talk about a hundred different issues by being asked questions but let me tell you every time, we're going to back to what's most important to Americans and that is how are we gonna get this country working again."
"It is time for change. Not a rhetoric of change, but a record of change," he said, directing his criticism to President Obama.
On his two-day swing through the conservative early Southern primary state – with visits to Florence, Columbia, Greenville and Rock Hill - Perry picked up two important endorsements and drew crowds in the hundreds while talking up small government.
"Most Americans don't yearn to be dependent on government. They want economic freedom," Perry told the Florence crowd. "Economic freedom comes from work and wages, not welfare."
Being governor of a state with like-minded values certainly helps Perry campaign through what he calls a "conservative beacon on the Eastern seaboard."
He connects to the veteran population with his experience as an Air Force pilot, to the social conservative groups with his Christian values and he can talk about college and national sports as good as the next guy.
Veteran South Carolina lawmaker and former U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins, who endorsed the candidate in Greenville, described Perry's appeal to the state.
"I'm sure all of you have many things in common with Governor Perry. And that's the point. Governor Perry is one of us," Wilkins said. "He is someone that we can relate to, he is someone that we can connect with and he is someone that we can believe in."
But some voters in the state are still sizing up the candidate, who just entered the race seven days ago.
Perry faced questions from people challenging his conservative credentials, since he first held elective office as a Democrat and was Texas campaign chairman for Democrat Al Gore's 1988 unsuccessful presidential bid.
One man in Greenville confronted the candidate about his ties to the other party and later told CNN that Perry acknowledged he didn't support Ronald Reagan in 1976 and 1980. The man, a Republican, remained unconvinced, "as though the time distance nullifies his philosophy?"
Hundreds of people gathered to meet the most recent presidential candidate at his last event in Rock Hill, a meet-and-greet at the quaint downtown Old Town Bistro, and those who couldn't fit in the tiny storefront restaurant waited in an overflow room in the back.
The candidate stepped a few feet into the packed banquet room and stayed only a few minutes, disappointing hundreds of people who were told the presidential candidate was going to speak and work the room like he did at Old Town Bistro and at ever other stop.
CNN talked to a number of people who said they were disappointed, including one woman who waited five hours.