Perry pitched his record in the last decade in creating jobs in Texas, attributing that to low state taxes and "fair and predictable" government regulation.
Perry took two clear shots at key Obama policies: Health-care reform and transportation infrastructure.
Perry said the federal government should stay out of the way of the private sector and refrain from telling states how to handle issues.
"I mean, the idea that Washington, D.C., is going to get us out of this mess, from the standpoint of printing more money and putting more stimulus out there and raising taxes, it's a dream," Perry said. "Actually, it's a nightmare."
In Denver, Obama said his jobs legislation would create "good middle-class jobs again" by encouraging renovations at schools and new road-infrastructure projects. The legislation also pushes summer employment for young people and extended unemployment for the jobless.
Democrats have a 1.1 million voter registration edge on Republicans in Pennsylvania, where no GOP presidential candidate has won in two decades.
Asked how he would break that cycle, Perry steered the conversation back to job creation.
He did the same when asked about attacks on his record by other GOP candidates this year.
Perry entered the race amid the clamor of Republicans eager for a new choice but enjoyed just a brief political honeymoon. He declined yesterday to offer advice to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is now hearing the same clamor to challenge Obama.
A Daily News/Franklin & Marshall College Poll released this month showed Obama beating Perry 38 percent to 27 percent in a head-to-head match-up, with 10 percent supporting another candidate and 26 percent undecided.
Insurance broker Manuel Stamatakis hosted the Perry fundraiser at the Four Seasons Hotel, where about 110 people paid $1,000 to $50,000 to attend. Stamatakis, who declined to disclose how much had been raised, said he likes Perry's stance on the federal government leaving many decisions up to state and local control.
Stamatakis, who supported former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for president in 2008, acknowledged that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has the jump on Perry this year with a Pennsylvania election team still in place from 2008.
"It's going to take a little more work," Stamatakis said. "But people in this country are still looking for someone to lead."