WILTON — Diana Gradert was wearing a Rick Perry sticker, not because she had committed to supporting the Texas Republican’s presidential bid, but because it was the right thing to do.
“They were handing them out when we came in and it would be impolite to say ‘no,’” said Gradert, a Wilton Republican who attended a rural Cedar County fundraiser where Perry spoke Oct. 22.
She likes Perry, likes that he’s “a conservative by conviction, not by convenience,” as he described himself.
“He’s done some good things in Texas which tells me he knows how to accomplish things,” Gradert said between bites of pulled pork and baked beans being served at the fundraiser the Rep. Jeff Kaufmann, R-Wilton.
Gradert was still wearing the sticker after listening to Perry’s plan to “let American be America again” and she may keep wearing it.
“I was impressed. I liked what I heard,” Gradert said, stopping just short of giving Perry her unqualified backing.
Kaufmann, who was backing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich earlier, also stopped short of endorsing Perry, but praised him and suggested that the former cotton farmer’s rural roots may provide a valuable perspective for the job he’s seeking.
Growing up rural, Kaufmann said, teaches persistence, tradition and adaptation to survive.
“It’s a mindset, a way of looking at the world … the way you confront a problem,” the farmer and college teacher said.
Perry agreed that whether it’s in Wilton, Iowa, or Paint Creek, Texas, the values learned growing up on a farm, such as hard work and duty to family and country, “are pretty good for the president to have.”
A plan to create jobs would be pretty valuable, too, Perry said, promising that as president he could create 1.2 million jobs in the energy sector.
“The fastest way to get the economy going is to expand energy exploration,” Perry said.
Will all of the various forms of energy this nation has, “We’re standing on the cusp of an American energy boom,” he said.
American has enough energy resources – Perry listed oil, coal, natural gas, solar and wind, but made no mention of ethanol – to fuel the nation for 300 years.
“We’ve got to stop this administration’s war on coal and natural and any other producer who doesn’t fit their description of a politically correct producer,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to be dependent on Venezuela and other unstable countries in the Middle East for our energy. Let’s create American jobs by developing American resources.”
Putting jobs at the top of his agenda scored points with Beth Orr of Durant, who said she’s leaning toward supporting Perry.
Although Perry’s debate performances have raised some questions about whether he has what it will take to defeat Obama, Orr was impressed by his remarks.
“He carries himself well,” she said. “He has great ideas for the economy.”
Whether he’s talking about energy, manufacturing or other sectors of the economy, Perry said the premise is the same: “Make what Americans buy, buy what Americans make and sell it to the world.”
Perry provided a peek at his economic growth package he will unveil Tuesday. He’s going to call for a flat tax — and call for a serious commitment to cutting spending. He wants to reform entitlements – but preserve retirement benefits, enact a balanced budget amendment and “end earmarks for good.”
“It’s time to bring some tough medicine to Washington,” Perry said. “It’s time to get Washington out of the way.”
That starts with electing a conservative president, Perry said.
“The American people may be bruised, but they’re not broken,” Perry said. “They want a new president who can deliver the hope and change that this one we have today promised.”