Facing two felony indictments, Texas Gov. Rick Perry came out swinging on Saturday, and some supporters say he could emerge stronger for the fight.
'This farce of a prosecution will be revealed for what it is,' the governor exclaimed at an afternoon news conference in Austin, where he leveled some unofficial charges of his own.
'We don't settle political differences with indictments in this country; it is outrageous that some would use partisan political theatrics to rip away at the very fabric of our state's constitution,' he said.
The governor dismissed as political retribution the accusations that he abused his power and coerced a public servant.
A grand jury in Travis County indicted Perry Friday for those two crimes. The panel handed down the indictments after the governor made good on his threat last year to veto funding for the Public Integrity Unit at the Travis County District Attorney's office.
Perry denied the funding because D.A. Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign after being convicted of drunk driving
Perry was defiant on Saturday. 'I wholeheartedly and unequivocally stand behind my veto,' he said.
The governor contends his actions were well within the law, and that the case against him is political.
Many prominent Democrats have been relatively quiet about the matter. But Democrat Wendy Davis, who is running to replace Perry, offered this: 'The charges that were brought down by the grand jury are very serious charges, and I trust that in the course of the coming days and weeks and months, the justice system will do its job.'
Might weeks and months of court proceedings damage Perry's presumed run for the White House in 2016?
'He's been doing a lot of the right things,' said Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak. 'His numbers have been moving up in the national polls over the last year. My guess is that it will unsettle some of that positive momentum he has been building, to some extent.'
But supporters believe the indictment might actually help a future Perry presidential bid if conservatives view this as an attack from the left and rally around him.
'Once people learn of the situation and realize he is a Republican standing up to Democrats in Texas, that might actually entice some Republican primary voters,' Dallas County Republican Party chairman Wade Emmert said.