Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs lashed out against Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday, saying it was a “remarkable turnaround” for the Republican presidential candidate to say he was passionate about America just a few years after he was talking about the possibility of Texas seceding from the U.S. The current White House spokesman, Jay Carney, also took issue with comments Perry made on Monday, warning that political candidates have to be careful about what they say.
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The comments concern statements Perry made during a visit to the Iowa State Fair on Monday, which Gibbs said were “remarkable in the sense that just two years ago, the governor of Texas openly talked about leading Texas out of the United States of America -- and now this campaign has caused him to profess his love to the United States.”
Perry said on Monday that Americans want a “president who is passionate about America,” and later suggested President Obama himself may not share the sentiment, telling a reporter to “go ask him” if he loves America.
“Any day now, Rick Perry will ask to see the president's birth certificate,” Gibbs said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “But, look, these are the kind of crazy arguments that you have and the kind of crazy things that you're going to see much, much more of, as each of the three candidates seeks to outdo each other to pledge allegiance to the tea party to pick this nominee.”
On his second full day of campaigning, Perry made other remarks that may draw attention from Obama's team:
- Speaking of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Perry said: "If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don’t know what y’all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost… treasonous in my opinion." Carney responded on Tuesday, telling reporters in Iowa: "When you're running for president you have to think about what you're saying because your words have greater impact." Carney added, "We take the independence of the Federal Reserve quite seriously."
- Perry also touted his military experience, suggesting it would make him a better commander in chief than Obama: “I think the military men and women respect the commander in chief regardless of who it is. I think they really like to see a person who’s worn the uniform in that office,” Perry told reporters. “... Go ask your veterans if they’d rather see somebody who’s never served as the commander in chief.... Statement of fact. People are comfortable with folks who have been through what they’ve been through in life.”
Gibbs also said on Tuesday that Americans have a choice between continued progress under Obama or regressing to what he called bad economic policies by picking the Republican candidates.
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“You're going to have a choice between going forward or going back to a lot of the problems that got us in to this mess," Gibbs said. "If you think we're a tax cut for millionaires and billionaires away from a great economy, then you’ve got three perfect candidates to pick from: Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, and Rick Perry. I think there's going to be a very clear choice in this election in 2012.”
Obama was clear during the fierce partisan standoff during debt negotiations that he wanted to roll back the Bush-era tax cuts on the wealthy, a move that “would bear the most fruit for the budget and it would put us on a much saner fiscal path,” Gibbs said. “I have no doubt we'll have a vociferous campaign about those tax cuts. After the president is reelected at the end of 2012, the tax cuts for the richest are not going to be extended.”
Gibbs pushed back against the claim that Obama was in a sense running against his predecessor, George W. Bush. “But many of the policies that got us to the mess we're trying to dig out of now are the same policies that they try to go back to,” he said, referring to the current GOP field.