Texas Gov. Rick Perry
opened a meeting with about 50 Washington insiders
on Friday by telling them that the first few weeks of his campaign were a "love fest" followed by an "ass kickin'" that's improved his game, according to several participants present.
The meeting, at the offices of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, attracted a large crowd of fence-sitting K Streeters at a time when Perry's trying to increase his support inside-the-Beltway. He spent the first 15 minutes shaking hands, followed by a roughly 20 minute presentation and 20 minutes of Q+A, according to a Perry supporter who was there.
Asked about immigration, Perry said it was a state sovereignty issue but the federal government should secure the border. If elected, he said he would do a cost-benefit analysis of the regulations President Obama put in place through executive order and roll back those that overreach, focusing on energy and EPA rules. He mentioned his flat tax and said that companies with money overseas would be happy with his repatriation position, hinting that he supports the policy, according to people in the room.
When Perry was asked how he felt when Romney put his hand on Perry's shoulder during the debate, he smiled and moved on to the next question, participants said.
Several participants said Perry's policy expertise was underwhelming, but noted that he presented much better in person than he had during the debates.