WASHINGTON, Iowa--If Rick Perry drops out of the Republican presidential race after the Iowa caucuses, blame it on God.
“That’s God’s will,” Perry told a reporter when asked if there was any outcome on Tuesday that would cause him to end his presidential bid. “There might be an outcome that he decides that I wouldn’t go on.” But he’s hoping that the big man will be there for him on Jan. 3. When asked by the same reporter if God was caucusing, Perry responded, “Pretty sure He will be.”
The Texas governor wasn't leaving everything to God, though. Moments before, at a coffee shop in Washington, he took rival Rick Santorum to task for supporting earmarks while he was in Congress.
“Rick Santorum is a friend--and, I mean, I’ve got great respect for him--but when he talks about fiscal conservatism every now and then, it kind of leaves me scratching my head because he was a prolific earmarker; and as we talk about the things that are wrong with Washington, D.C., these earmarks are a great example of how runaway spending has occurred,” Perry said.
Perry has previously attacked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul for loading up bills with pork projects. The focus on Santorum came a day after a CNN/Time/ORC poll of Iowa showed Santorum surging to 16 percent and third place. Perry was fifth with 11 percent.
In a sign of the growing list of rivals he must try to beat, Perry released an ad on Thursday targeting all four current and former members of Congress in the GOP field, saying that they'd be like foxes guarding the henhouse. Perry’s communications director, Ray Sullivan, explicitly mentioned Santorum for the first time.
Perry’s team had dug up a 2009 quote in which Santorum said he was proud of his record of requesting earmarks and pledged to defend the practice. “Well, Senator Santorum, I’m going to give you that opportunity to defend your earmarks, because earmarks are the gateway drug to the spending habit they have in Washington, D.C.,” Perry said. He accused Santorum of voting for the infamous Bridge to Nowhere, an unfinished project in Alaska that received a substantial amount of federal money.
"I love Iowa pork, but I hate Washington pork," Perry joked in the state that is, according to the Iowa Pork Producers Association, the No. 1 pork producer and exporter in the country. He said that Santorum had "loaded up his bills with Pennsylvania pork” -- a different animal altogether.