ANDERSON, South Carolina -- A buoyant Rick Perry told reporters Thursday that he's "in it to win it," even as he acknowledged there are "a lot of challenges" in raising the funds he needs to get his struggling presidential campaign back on track.
"There are a lot of challenges out there, from the standpoint of being able to raise money right now — but I feel confident we're going to get back on track and raise the money we need to keep the doors open," he told reporters following a town hall in Anderson, S.C.
They marked Perry's first public comments since news broke this week that he's been forced to stop paying his campaign staff nationwide due to financial struggles. Perry raised just over $1.4 million in the first half of the year, putting him near the bottom of the GOP presidential field in terms of fundraising, and spent a little over half of that, leaving his campaign handicapped just as fall campaigning picks up.
While Perry expressed optimism that he could right the ship, he acknowledged that the financial struggles were already taking a toll on his staff, some of whom he said had left instead of volunteering unpaid.
"I'm sure there have been some folks that have gone to work in some other places — but the vast majority of our staffers have stayed on board, and I'm really proud of them for of that," he said.
He also said "some good things have come from this," citing a strong online fundraising day that came after the news of the campaign's struggles went public earlier this week. But he could offer no timeline for when he expected to begin paying his staff again, and admitted he wouldn't be able to compete financially with many of the other deep-pocketed candidates in the field.
"I'm never gonna raise as much money as some of the other campaigns, but again the presidency of the United States isn't for sale. If it was, Donald Trump would just write a check and be done," he said.
Perry was in northeastern South Carolina for a town hall at the Anderson Christian School, where he received a warm reception from a crowd of admirers as he outlined his policy views. He delivered the audience the same message he gave to the press, drawing a comparison between his persistence in winning his wife Anita's hand in marriage and his plans to stay in the race.
"I've been written off," he said. "It took me 16 years to talk my wife into marrying me…So my point is, I understand how to stick with something, and I know how to do this."
Perry added that "everything hadn't gone exactly like we wanted it to in the campaign, but I never have run a campaign yet that has gone exactly like you expect it to."
But he promised to stick around: "This is a long game — this is a marathon, this isn't a sprint. And you're gonna see me a lot in South Carolina, they're gonna see me a lot in Iowa, they're gonna see me a lot in New Hampshire."