Skip to comments.A more disciplined Perry goes back to work in Iowa
Posted on 10/08/2011 9:02:42 PM PDT by smoothsailing
By Jason Embry
Updated: 10:02 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011
Published: 9:56 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011
Texas Gov. Rick Perry moved through Iowa on Saturday a more disciplined presidential candidate than he was in his initial swing through the state almost two months ago.
Gone were Perry's earlier suggestions that the Federal Reserve chairman is approaching treason or that U.S. troops would rather serve under a military veteran than under President Barack Obama. Instead, during three Saturday stops in northwestern Iowa, Perry stuck to brief prepared remarks and rehearsed answers to voters' questions on jobs, immigration and energy policy.
Of course, much has changed since Perry swaggered through Iowa immediately after his mid-August campaign launch. He bolted to the top of national polls and then fell right back down after opponents fixed their fire on him in three September debates.
Perry still expects to play well in Iowa, site of the country's first nominating contests, and the former farmer met voters Saturday with an I'm-like-you pitch at every stop.
"My conservative values are pretty similar to the ones I see reflected here in the Midwest, where you measure an individual by how they walk, not just how they talk," Perry said in Orange City.
Asked by a voter about Social Security, Perry stayed away from his earlier descriptions of the program as a "Ponzi scheme" and a "monstrous lie" to younger generations. Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and Perry's chief rival for the nomination, has said such language could hurt Republicans against Obama.
Perry was quick to say he did not want to alter the program for Americans at or near retirement but said it needs changes over the longer term.
"Are we to stagger up the age at which people become eligible?" Perry said in Sioux City. "We're all living substantially longer than when Social Security was put into place. To me that makes sense, to move that age up. Are we going to means test it in some form or fashion? I don't have a problem with that concept either."
Means testing is the process of reducing benefits for wealthy recipients.
Perry seemed determined to tone down the bravado that has led some Republicans to question whether he would implode in a general election matchup against Obama. Even when asked Saturday about the idea that he's an "I-shot-a-coyote-in-the-face candidate," Perry gave a restrained reply, saying Americans "are interested in a serious candidate who will get America working again."
Perry also fielded questions about his support of a Texas law allowing some children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition. He again defended the law, which opponents have criticized heavily in debates, while also saying he has opposed driver's licenses for illegal immigrants and supported stricter voter identification requirements at the polls.
"Are we going to create a class of tax wasters or taxpayers?" Perry asked in defense of the tuition law. "Texas chose the latter."
He added that he would not advocate that approach on a national basis.
And, after a reminder in Sioux City from first lady Anita Perry, the governor noted that the Texas law calls on those students to work toward citizenship. That was enough to satisfy Larry Fuller, a retired pharmaceutical salesman who asked about the tuition law.
"He's not the best speaker, but he certainly makes a point," Fuller said. "I think it's a good program if it's handled right. Citizenship has got to be tied in there."
Perry boosted his campaign last week by announcing that he had raised $17 million in his first seven weeks as a candidate, which is probably more than any other candidate raised in the third quarter of the year. Candidates are not required to report their fundraising to the Federal Election Commission until Oct. 15.
Still, he has plenty of work to do. The Republican candidates will debate Tuesday in New Hampshire, and Perry needs to prove he can better defend his record and handle complex questions on national and international issues.
And a new controversy developed Friday about Romney's Mormon faith.
Robert Jeffress, the lead pastor at First Baptist Church in Dallas, introduced Perry at a speech Friday to the Values Voters Summit in Washington, calling the governor "a committed follower of Christ." Perry thanked him, and said Jeffress had "hit it out of the park."
Afterward, Jeffress told reporters Romney was "not a Christian" and that Mormonism is a cult. Jeffress repeatedly made similar comments during Romney's 2008 presidential campaign. Questions about his faith plagued Romney's previous campaign, but he had been able to keep them at bay so far this time.
On Saturday, also speaking to the Value Voters Summit, Romney denounced "poisonous language" against faiths. He did not directly confront Jeffress' words. He was criticizing another speaker at the meeting who is known for anti-Mormon and anti-Muslim rhetoric and who followed him on stage.
But his cautionary words served as notice that attacks on faiths should, in his view, be off the table. He appealed to the social conservatives to support a presidential candidate who has the best record on the economy.
Mormonism sparks concern among evangelical Christians, a critical bloc of voters in the Republican primary. Some say they do not believe Mormons are Christian because they also rely on the Book of Mormon as a holy text, which some view as deviating from the Jesus Christ who is portrayed in the Bible.
At an event in Iowa after his Washington speech Friday, Perry was asked if he believes Mormonism is a cult.
"No," Perry said.
And his campaign noted that it was the Family Research Council, which hosted the speeches by Perry and other candidates this weekend, that asked Jeffress to introduce Perry.
Tony Perkins, head of the council, told Politico that the Perry campaign approved Jeffress as his introducer.
The flare-up highlighted an issue that could play a big role in Iowa and other states with early nominating contests.
"They have some strange ideas in that," said Clyda Novotny, a nurse from Sioux City. "Not to judge anybody, but I totally disagree with the Mormon religion. That would stop me."
Others said Romney's faith did not bother them.
"I think people from a lot of disparate backgrounds can step into the Oval Office and do real well," said Jeff Keady, the pastor of an evangelical church in Orange City.
Keady said Perry seemed much more comfortable in person than he does on television, and that could go a long way in a state where voters expect to personally vet their candidates.
"A lot of it will depend on how nice they are to us when we meet them," said Ken Browne, a Sioux City retiree who said he's unsure whom to support. "We need someone with a little zip to them."
I have a feeling we haven’t heard the last from Mr. Perry.
I have the impression that he is in this to win it, and he intends to go the distance.
I do too, I think that he will do very well in the next few months.
There are many fools who are saying that the Perry campaign is dead. These fools have a very short memory and all what they have to do is going just to last elections where everyone announced the death of the McCain campaign in the 2007 and all the way until just few days before the first vote was cast in the first primary. Then McCain came back strong and won the nomination by March 2008.
If Perry doesn’t come out and give a big policy speech that tackles changing the standard ways of DC, he is going to keep slipping in the polls. He shot himself in the foot in the debates and he needs to get people talking about serious issues instead of his incoherent speech patterns.
It was refreshing to hear the truth and a spade called a spade. No PC bs. Bernake a traitor and SocSec a ponzi scheme. Right on, Governor.
Btw, Reagan said much worse.
IF you'd rather NOT be pinged FReepmail me.
IF you'd like to be added FReepmail me. Thanks.
Anyone know who that speaker is that followed Romney on stage? BTW, I assume that "follow Romney on stage" means the person was the next speaker, not a stalker.
I read earlier today that he is giving a policy speech in Pittsburgh soon. I don’t remember the details but I’ll do a search and post a link to you.
“Shucks! I kinda liked the old Rick Perry.
It was refreshing to hear the truth and a spade called a spade. No PC bs. “
I feel the same way. :)
LOL! I know what you mean, and I bet we’ll still see alot of the old Rick, but with a shave and a haircut and a shoeshine! :)
I shoot an AR15 as good anyone, should I be POTUS based on that?
I read it too - I think he will give a major policy speech next Friday.
Rick Perry to deliver Pittsburgh policy speech
Rick Perry will deliver a policy address in Pittsburgh next Friday, his campaign said.
Spokesman Mark Miner told POLITICO the speech would “focus on energy and job creation.” He said there would be “more in the coming weeks.”