CRESTON, Iowa –- As he continues to portray himself as the “outsider” of the Republican race, Rick Perry told Iowa voters on Tuesday that Washington was “blackmailing” them with their own money in order to control their lives.
The charges came as Perry was discussing education policy, which he said was “none of [the federal government’s] business,” He often rails against federal spending and accuses the government of taking money from the taxpayers, skimming off dollars to pay administrative costs, and returning it to the states with preconditions on how they can spend it.
And on a day where he sought to paint his rivals as Washington insiders, Perry also had some harsh words for President Obama. “What’s that guy thinking?” he said of the request the president is expected to make later this week to raise the debt ceiling. Perry suggested that the president was simply not thinking, through the request is part of an agreement brokered with Congress this summer to raise the debt ceiling in multiple steps.
He also laid into the president for taking his annual Christmas vacation, saying, “You’re not going to see me playing golf on Sunday morning, you’re not going to see me on a 19-day trip to Hawaii.”
Earlier in the day, Perry kicked off the second leg of his Iowa bus seeking to convince audiences they didn’t have to settle for anyone but a true conservative – and that true conservative is him.
“I want you to answer this question: Why should you settle for anything less than an authentic conservative who will fight for your views and values without an apology? Think about that,” Perry asked the packed crowd of over 100 in the Main Street Café here. “Why should you have to settle for anything less than the real deal to go to Washington, D.C., and to represent you, work for you in Washington?”
He alluded to his competitors in the race, suggesting that they were Washington insiders who supported the financial rescue and health care law that many Republican voters despise.
“I got all the respect in the world for the front-runners in this race, but ask yourself: If we replace a Democratic insider with a Republican insider, you think we’re really going to change Washington, D.C.? You don’t have to settle for Washington and Wall Street insiders who supported the Wall Street bailout and the Obamacare individual mandate,” he said.
In a swipe at fellow Texan Ron Paul, who is increasingly looking like the candidate most likely to win the Iowa caucuses, Perry told the crowd they didn’t have to settle for someone who would “allow Iran to wipe Israel off the face of the earth and then ultimately America. You don’t have to stand for that.”
Perry appeared alongside Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the controversial Arizona lawman who found himself the subject of charges by the Justice Department earlier this month that he violated civil liberties. Arpaio, who briefly introduced Perry at the start of the event, called it a “sneak attack” by the Obama administration but suggested a president like Perry would allow him to continue his work unfettered.
In a Fox News interview after the charges were revealed last month, Perry defended his supporter, saying that people were “out after Sheriff Joe.”
Arpaio campaigned with Perry in New Hampshire just after Thanksgiving. But his presence seemed much more effective in Iowa, as did Perry’s pledges to shut down the border with Mexico within a year of taking office. That promise received applause and cheers from the enthusiastic audience.