CONCORD, N.H. — Texas Gov. Rick Perry steered back to a populist, anti-Washington message here on Wednesday as he sharpened his rhetoric against the twin evils of Washington and Wall Street and regaled the New Hampshire Legislature with his support for right-to-work legislation.
Recovering from a rough day on the campaign trail on Tuesday, the gaffe-prone presidential candidate was on message during appearances around the state that will hold the nation's first primary. “We’re going to clean up the corruption from K Street to Wall Street so they cannot gamble away our children’s future any longer,” Perry told a group from the Nashua Chamber of Commerce during a morning town hall meeting.
Later, speaking to the New Hampshire Legislature, Perry said: “Washington politicians have acted like Black Friday consumers, engaging in a spending spree that puts our children’s future on layaway. Their motto is, ‘We buy now, they pay later.’ ”
The previous day, Perry’s decision to roll out his endorsement from Arizona’s Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio fell flat in New Hampshire, a state where Arpaio’s fierce anti-illegal immigration message does not play well with independents. The state also has a friendly relationship with neighboring Canada. Perry also misspoke during an appearance at Saint Anselm College, mistaking the voting age for 21 and getting the date of the election wrong.
He regained his footing with a more populist theme on Wednesday, although it continues to bode poorly for the Perry campaign that a mistake-free day is deemed a success.
Perry railed against the bailout of the financial industry, saying to applause, “We shouldn’t be awarding taxpayer-funded bonuses to the Wall Street executives who defrauded those very same taxpayers. We ought to be locking them up.”
Taking a subtle jab at his Republican rivals, he told Granite Staters that they shouldn't have to settle for “choosing between Washington insiders.”
The chamber of the New Hampshire statehouse erupted in cheers – and boos from protesters in the balcony – when Perry encouraged the state to pass a right-to-work law, which would bar union membership as a condition for employment. It’s a hot button topic in the state, where the Legislature failed to override the governor’s veto of the bill less than two hours after Perry’s speech.
Perry seemed to be in his element behind the podium, at home with a group of legislators that work part time, as they do in his home state of Texas. His speech was one of his more eloquent to date, filled with historical references and musings on the portraits of founding fathers and other famous Americans that adorned the wall behind him.
“The freedoms written into this Constitution that I carry with me every day,” Perry said, pulling out a pocket-sized document from his suit, “are not just some words on paper. They are ideals that are inscribed in the hearts of every American who yearns to be free. Let’s set 'em free! Let’s not let Washington rein us any longer, let’s rein Washington in, and let’s let America be America again!”