NEW HAMPTON, Iowa – Rick Perry is keeping things interesting on his Iowa bus tour by attacking different rivals every day. Saturday's focus on his fellow Texan, Rep. Ron Paul, disappeared Sunday as Perry shifted his attention to frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.
Both men took hits from Perry, who accused Romney of raising business taxes in Massachusetts and Gingrich of raiding the Social Security fund in order to balance budgets. The remarks came after Perry spent the first few minutes of a meet and greet here railing against tax hikes and Washington involvement in issues that he says should be left to the states.
“I want to make a clear distinction between myself and Governor Romney,” Perry said, noting that the two were both serving as governors in the early 2000s. He had just wrapped up a description of how he cut the Texas budget by cutting spending before turning to the former governor of Massachusetts. “He took a different path. He scoured his tax code looking for those ways to increase corporate taxes rather than cutting the budget. He succeeded in finding the ways to raise taxes and he raised taxes by some 400 million dollars in Massachusetts,” Perry said. He said Romney, “put it on the backs of Massachusetts job creators.”
Perry quoted from a Forbes article about Gingrich’s speakership that said both federal spending and debt increased during his tenure, and that one of the ways he balanced the budget was by employing “shameless accounting gimmicks” like borrowing from the Social Security trust fund.
“Those of you who are wondering what happened to the Social Security trust fund? Here’s part of it right here,” Perry told the crowd.
The Texas governor dropped yesterday’s attacks on Paul and Gingrich, criticizing them for making liberal use of earmarks, and instead chose to focus more on his job record and proposals. Some of them, including his calls for a part-time Congress and a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, seemed to get approval from the crowd.
“We got more government than we can pay for, and more government than we want,” Perry said to applause.
“He really has a very good message and he’d be right on,” said Jeanette, Kottke, who asked Perry about what he would do about the estate tax (he would eliminate it, Perry said). Kottke said she came to the event undecided but left a Perry supporter.
The governor spent the morning at church, attending two services to worship. He also spoke for a few minutes at the service at First Wesleyan Church in Charles City, Iowa, where he told the crowd of roughly 80 worshippers about his reckoning with faith in his late 20s and urged them to get involved in the public square.
As people of faith, Perry said, “you are biblically charged to take your values into the public arena.” He warned the congregants that the “politically correct police” would try to deter them from doing so. “Do not be intimidated,” he said.
For the Texas governor, it’s a matter of values – an issue to many of the evangelical Christian voters who will participate in the Jan. 3 caucuses. “Somebody's values are going to be installed, if you will. And the question is going to be, whose values?” he asked.
After church, Perry enjoyed a lunch of Southern food, including fried chicken (he expressed a propensity for the wings) with First Wesleyan pastor Denis Bachman and his family.