MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry and his plans to remake the federal government got a warm reception in New Hampshire as he pledged on Wednesday to take a sledgehammer to the bureaucracy of the nation’s capital.
It was Perry’s seventh trip to the Granite State, though his efforts in the area don’t appear to be paying off. A new Bloomberg Poll shows the governor with the support of 3 percent of New Hampshire voters, a sixth-place finish that put him ahead of only Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.
Despite the low numbers, Perry got plenty of applause from audiences during town halls at Granite State Manufacturing in Manchester and the VFW Hall in Nashua, where he pledged to limit the terms of federal judges to 18 years, slash the pay and working time of Congress, and eliminate the departments of Commerce, Education, and Energy, as well as the Transportation Security Administration.
His calls to outlaw insider trading by members of Congress were also met with support from the roughly 200 people he saw in public events on Wednesday.
Perry had nothing but scorn for critics of his plans to slash the federal government, such as House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer. The Maryland lawmaker accused Perry of “pandering to the tea party” and ignoring job creation.
“That’s exactly what I would expect from Pelosi Democrats,” Perry told a Nashua audience, referring to Hoyer’s colleague, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. “They’ve been living lavishly off the taxpayers.”
But Perry’s opponent No. 1 for the day was President Obama, whose comment to CEOs over the weekend that Americans have gotten “lazy” in the global marketplace has drawn heavy and repeated fire from the Texas governor.
"That's pathetic. It's time to clean house in Washington," Perry said in a new TV ad released on Wednesday that was airing nationally on Fox News. "Obama's socialist policies are bankrupting America. We must stop him now.”
During the Nashua town hall, Perry fielded questions about how he expects to successfully debate Obama if he struggles with his opponents in the Republican Party.
“I’ll be real honest with you -- I don’t think the next Republican nominee is going to get picked on who can debate or who can’t debate,” Perry said. “I think it’s going to be decided by American people who are really fed up with what this administration has done, and someone who can articulate strongly and powerfully an alternative version.”
Perry also faced questions from a Democrat and an independent voter during the Nashua town hall about his opposition to the health care law -- specifically the provisions that aim to strengthen preventative care -- and about how he would handle the high number of uninsured people in the country.
The governor offered little in the way of specifics on either question, but he asserted that health care, like most issues he talks about on the campaign trail, is best handled by states or individuals.
“I don’t think a 25-year-old who is healthy, who makes the decision on their own to live without having to pay whatever that health insurance would be.… I think that ought to be a decision that’s theirs to make,” he said.
The audience applauded loudly each time he slammed the national health care law, which the Supreme Court said earlier this week it would review next year. Perry said he expects the high court to overturn the law because of its requirement that Americans buy health insurance policies.