Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday defended a decision to begin collecting his pension early in addition to drawing a $150,000 salary as governor as nothing “out of the ordinary” since they are funds he accrued through his military and public service.
“I think it would be rather foolish to not access what you’ve earned,” Perry told reporters at a media gathering in Cherokee, Iowa.
The Texas Tribune reported that the 61-year-old Perry’s state salary of $150,000 is now being supplemented by a monthly retirement annuity of $7,698 before taxes, or $6,588 in net income. That brings his annual earnings to more than $240,000, the newspaper estimated.
The disclosure is expected to draw criticism of Perry, who has called for sweeping changes to Social Security for average workers and has railed against special "perks" that members of Congress receive, the newspaper said.
Perry also had harsh words for his fellow Texan, Rep. Ron Paul, who castigated his fellow candidates for warmongering against Iran during a debate in Sioux City, Iowa, on Thursday night. Perry suggested Paul greatly underestimated the danger of a nuclear Iran.
“Dr. Paul's just wrong on this issue,” Perry said to a crowd of about 50 that gathered at a coffee shop in Cherokee to hear him speak. “You can't make nice with the mullahs. They hate us, they hate everything about America. They hate our lifestyle, they hate our faith, they dislike us to the point that they would use a nuclear device first to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. And they consider Israel to be the little Satan? They consider us to be the real Satan.”
Perry repeated his warnings later in the day to a small crowd in Storm Lake, Iowa, a clear sign that he is set on trying to knock Paul out of his current third-place standing in Iowa.
But Paul wasn’t Perry’s only target Friday. Following questions about new charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission against mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Perry also took aim at rival Newt Gingrich. The former House Speaker reportedly received upwards of $1.5 million in consulting fees from Freddie.
“The idea that somehow or another I’m a consultant, I wasn’t a lobbyist? For most of us that is a very weak excuse at best,” Perry told reporters, using the critique to segue into calling for an outsider like himself to get the Republican nomination.
He touched on many different topics during the second day of a bus tour around the state, and his discussion about job creation led him to make a passionate defense for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to refineries in Texas.
Perry defended Republicans in Congress who have attempted to force President Obama to approve or deny construction of the pipeline in exchange for passage of a payroll-tax-cut extension. Obama had tried to delay the decision until after the 2012 election.
“He’s basically saying these environmentalists over here are more important than your family,” Perry said of the president in Storm Lake.