DES MOINES — A day after he stole some of Michele Bachmann’s thunder during a stop in Waterloo, Texas Gov. Rick Perry was mobbed well-wishers and media Monday as he strolled the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
Perry, who announced his plans to run for president Saturday, seemed particularly comfortable with the type of retail politics a day at the state fair demands.
He worked the Republican Party booth for about an hour, shaking hands and signing autographs. Then Perry canvassed the fairgrounds, making a special point of talking with children and veterans who waved him down.
His sustenance on the trip included a pork-chop-on-a-stick, an egg-on-a-stick and a vegetarian corn dog.
“As long as it’s an ag product,” Perry said when told that it was a meatless meal.
Perry hit on themes similar to those he touched on in Waterloo. He pointed to his record on job creation in Texas, his service in the U.S. Air Force and blasted government regulation, particularly the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“I agree with just about everything he says,” said Dennis Anderson, a farmer from Story County who heard Perry speak Monday. He and his wife, Pat, voted for businessman Herman Cain at Saturday’s Iowa GOP straw poll in Ames.
Pat Anderson said she was kind of miffed that Perry didn’t participate in the straw poll, but she felt he was genuine and passionate. Dick Anderson said while he liked Perry, he wasn’t ready to commit. “It’s so early still,” he said. “There’s plenty of time to make a decision.”
In a Monday afternoon conference call with reporters put on the Iowa Democratic Party, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett said that while Texas has led the nation in job creation, it’s mostly minimum- and low-wage jobs. He also said he considers Perry firmly entrenched with the tea party.
“He will not be out-right winged by Michele Bachmann,” Doggett said. “He will leap over and out-right-wing her or anybody else.”
Perry stayed with broad themes in his comments to reporters as they tailed him around the fairgrounds.
When asked, for example, what he would do differently than President Barack Obama in handling the economy, Perry said, “There will be a lot of time to talk about that later, boys and girls.”
He did say, however, that Americans want to see someone in office who has a record of creating jobs. He also said military servicemen and women would like to see a person in the White House who has served in the military.
Addressing Obama directly, Perry said in his speech, “He said he’s on a listening tour, and I’m going to talk to him,” noting Obama’s Midwestern bus tour this week. “Mr. President: You need to free up the employers of this country to free up jobs.”
Gov. Terry Branstad, who met Monday morning with Perry over a breakfast of French toast, Canadian bacon, coffee and juice at the governor’s mansion, called Perry and “exciting new entry into the race.”
Branstad also congratulated Bachmann, a member of Congress from Minnesota, on her straw poll win, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania for a better-than-expected showing and encouraged former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to spend more time in Iowa.
“It’s a wide open race right now,” Branstad said.