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The Gazette KCRG
Posted December 29, 2011
In race for top-tier Iowa caucus finish, Perry goes after Santorum

Republican presidential hopeful Governor Rick Perry of Texas speaks during a stop at The Blue Strawberry in downtown Cedar Rapids on Thursday, December 29, 2011. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Trying to predict the results of the Jan. 3 Iowa precinct caucuses is a “pretty serious crapshoot,” according to Rick Perry, who predicted caucus night might produce some surprises.

The Texas governor hopes one of those surprises is him finishing in the top three among the six candidates actively campaigning for support in Republicans’ first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses.

“Nobody knows” what the outcome will be when Iowans caucus at 1,774 places around the state to state their preference for a nominee to challenge President Obama, Perry said on his campaign bus after speaking to more than 200 people at the Blue Strawberry Coffee Co., in downtown Cedar Rapids Dec. 29. “A lot of people haven’t made up their minds.”

Aaron Telecky of Cedar Rapids is one of those likely caucusgoers who hasn’t made up his mind. He likes Perry’s “moral views” and his executive experience as governor of Texas.

“He knows how to make decisions,” said Telecky.

On his way out, Telecky said Perry’s comments “provided some clarity.”

“He’s still in the running,” he said.

For his part, Perry sought to clarify that he’s the outsider needed to fix a federal government that has been ruined by Washington insiders who care more about job preservation and maintaining the status quo than representing the public.

“Why should you settle for anyone but an authentic conservative to represent your values and your views without apology in Washington DC?” Perry asked. “Somebody’s values are going to get represented in government. The question’s going to be, ‘Whose values? Is it going to be our values or is it going to be somebody else’s values?’”

Reflecting a new CNN poll showing former Rick Santorum surging past him, Perry included the Pennsylvania senator in his criticism of Washington “insiders” who are at the root of gridlock, wasteful spending and record deficits.

“I have great respect for Sen. Santorum. I pray for his daughter on a daily basis,” Santorum said, referring to 3-year-old Isabella Santorum, who has Trisomy 18, a Down-like disease.

“He is good man, but when he talks about fiscal conservativism, I’m left scratching my head,” Perry said. “Sen. Santorum, he is a prolific ear-marker.”

According to Perry, Santorum “loaded his bills with earmarks” and voted for the Alaska “Bridge to Nowhere.”

Perry quoted Santorum saying he was proud of his earmarks and would defend them.

“Well, senator, I’m calling you out. Defend to the people of this country and Iowa those earmarks that I happen to think are the gateway drugs to the spending problems we have in Washington,” Perry said, adding a promise to veto any legislation containing earmarks. “They’re dead. On arrival.”

In an interview later, Perry said he is better prepared to lead on the economy than Mitt Romney who touts his private sector experience.

“When he had the opportunity to take his private sector skills and apply them to job creation, he failed,” Perry said. He cited a report that Massachusetts trailed 47 states in job creation while Romney was governor.

Texas, on the other hand, has been creating jobs even as the nation has been losing jobs, said Perry, who calls himself the “jobs governor.”

“So it’s not about what I will do,” he said. “It’s here’s what I’ve done.”

Perry declined to speculate on what he might have done differently in his campaign. He entered the race in mid-August and zoomed to the top of the polls, but then fell to single digits and the low teens.

“I’m all about going forward,” he said, adding he would leave it to others to “waste their time looking back.”

He also rejected the idea that his campaign is about laying the groundwork for a 2016 bid for president.

“That’s two lifetimes away in the political world,” Perry said. “This is all about 2012.”

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