DES MOINES – Like a high-plains range rider, Texas Gov. Rick Perry traveled Iowa Saturday looking to mend some political fences.
Perry upset some Iowa Republicans by throwing his hat into the political ring earlier this month at the same time they were holding their biggest fundraising event of the year in Ames that included a high-profile presidential straw poll.
On Saturday, he engaged in the retail politicking that is the hallmark of the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses, ending the day at a Polk County GOP event that drew more than twice the normal crowd thanks to the presence of Perry and two Republican rivals for the party’s 2012 presidential nomination – U.S. Reps. Ron Paul of Texas and Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan.
Darrell Kearney, a Polk County GOP official, said Perry is on the road to getting back into the good graces of Iowa Republicans by appearing at events like the one that drew scores of party faithful to the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
“I think he’s made it very clear he’s going to spend a lot of time in Iowa, he’s going to campaign hard in Iowa, and it’s just that he made a decision to get in late,” Kearney said. “He’s got a lot of ground to make up, but he’s pretty popular tonight. But it’s a wide open race.”
Perry touted his state’s success in creating jobs since he became governor in December 2000 and juxtaposed that against President Obama’s economic record, noting that Iowa has lost over 12,000 jobs and now has one of eight residents on food stamps under the current administration. “That is a testament to the widespread misery created by this administration that the state known for feeding the world has so many residents now dependent on government just to pay for their food,” he said.
Perry conceded that Obama inherited a tough economic situation but he said the president has made it worse. “It is time for change, and I’m not talking about the rhetoric of change, I’m talking about the record of change and I’ve got that record,” he told the Polk County crowd.
Perry’s message wasn’t universally well received in Iowa. He told Iowa corn growers and later reporters at the Polk County event that he would like to see the federal government end all incentives that he believes are stifling growth – including tax breaks for corn-derived ethanol. “We don’t need to have government picking winners and losers,” Perry told reporters. “I’d like to see a level playing field for all the energy producers of this country.”
Paul assails regulations, approach to Libya
Ron Paul said he wanted to scrap the monetary and regulatory structures that are fueling government’s growth and limiting citizens’ freedoms.
“People are realizing the system we have today isn’t working. Even those who have been on the receiving end are getting worried. How are they going to get your money if you don’t have money?” said Paul, who finished a strong second in the Aug. 13 straw poll balloting in Ames. “There’s lot of worry but there’s lots of opportunity.”
Along with reducing people’s appetite for government, Paul said he wants to rein in a U.S. foreign policy that allows the president to commit American resources to a United Nations effort in Libya.
“I resent the fact that we go to war now without your permission,” he said. “We don’t even ask the Congress anymore. We go to the United Nations. We become marching troops for NATO. I don’t like that internationalism. I don’t even believe we should be in the United Nations and taking orders from the United Nations.”
The way it should work, Paul said, is “we go to war with a declaration, the Congress gets behind it, the people get behind it, you know who the enemy is, you fight to win and you get it over with and you don’t drag it out for 10 or 20 years.”
McCotter assails Democrats
Thaddeus McCotter told the Polk County GOP crowd that the Democratic Party wants to portray itself as progressive, but it actually supports regressive policies that impede liberty and self governance in favor of “a massive, imploding welfare state.”
He noted that Americans would not allow the government to tell them what to put on you’re their Facebook pages, what to “tweet out in your Twitter stream,” what to put on their I-Pods or how to run their lives.
“Then why would anyone let the federal government tell them who their doctor would be? Why would anyone let the federal government continue to foster regulations that destroy the productive capacity of the United States in a time of recession? Why would anybody go from an entrepreneurial-created, citizen-driven future back to the failed politics of Jimmy Carter in the 1970s, and the answer is we will not,” he said.
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