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Rick Perry takes heat for harsh remarks about Fed chairman

August 16, 2011|By James Oliphant and Michael Muskal
  • Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry greets people during a campaign stop in Walcott, Iowa.
Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry greets people during a campaign… (Jim Young / Reuters )

Reporting from Iowa and Los Angeles   — Rick Perry proved he can play offense by threatening Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, but on Tuesday the Republican presidential candidate found himself playing defense as the White House and his Texas foes struck back.

Speaking in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Monday, Perry was asked about Bernanke and his policy of quantitative easing, having the Federal Reserve buy Treasury securities as way to stimulate the economy.

“If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don’t know what you all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas,” Perry said. "Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost ... treasonous in my opinion."

The White House lost no time in make its displeasure known.

“When you’re president or you’re running for president you have to think about what you’re saying, because your words have greater impact," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters traveling with President Obama on his three-day bus tour of the Midwest.

“President Obama and we take the independence of the Federal Reserve quite seriously, and certainly think threatening the Fed chairman is probably not a good idea,” Carney said.

Karl Rove, President George Bush’s political guru, was harsher on Perry, but then the internecine world of Texas politics breeds its own feuds.

“You don't accuse the chairman of the Federal Reserve of being a traitor to his country, of being guilty of treason,” Rove said on Fox News, where he is an analyst. “Suggesting that we treat him pretty ugly in Texas — you know, that is not, again, a presidential statement.”

In a later interview with CNN, Obama was asked to respond to Perry’s comments that members of the armed services would prefer a commander in chief who served in the military.

According to CNN, Obama said presidential candidates have “got to be careful” about what they say. But as Perry just got into the presidential race, Obama said, he will “cut [Perry] some slack.”

james.oliphant@latimes.com

michael.muskal@latimes.com

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