Just a few days ago Rick Perry seemed to be basking in the attention he’s been getting from the press – gamely answering questions from reporters for several hours between hugs and autographs at the Iowa State Fair.
But Team Perry appears to be rethinking its strategy on message control.
After a series of controversial statements and unflattering headlines, a more subdued Perry arrived in New Hampshire Wednesday morning to make his debut at New Hampshire’s Politics & Eggs forum.
He delivered his stump speech about getting America working again and took a few tough questions from the audience. He made no apologies, but seemed to hint that he had perhaps gone too far in sharing his thoughts about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. (This week in Iowa, Perry said that if that if Bernanke “prints more money between now and the election … we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas.”)
“I got in trouble talking about the Federal Reserve,” Perry said, when a questioner asked if he’d favor auditing the agency. “I got lectured about that yesterday.” (He did not say by whom).
Perry said he would “absolutely” favor an audit: “They should open their books up. They should be transparent so the people of the United States know what they’re doing; how they’re doing it,” he said. “If they would simply open up and be transparent with the American people, I think it would go a long way towards either finding out whether or not there [are] some activities that are improper or that they’ve been handling themselves quite well.”
But the candidate didn’t seem interested in taking at any greater length about that subject, or any others, with the press. Making his way to the waiting SUV at the bottom of the granite steps of the Bedford Village Inn, Perry paused in the middle of a throng of reporters to sign some wooden eggs that the Politics & Eggs forum gives away to each guest as souvenirs. (Which were presumably to be given away to supporters by an aide).
Reporters had been shouting questions about his recent rise in the polls and his competition with rival Mitt Romney, as well as more substantive policy questions, but the Texas governor wasn’t having any of it.
“Now it’s warming up isn’t it?” Perry said, neatly penning his signature with a fine-tipped Sharpie.
Are you the strong, silent type?” one reporter asked him. Perry murmured something inaudible about being strong.
After he ignored another string of questions, a reporter asked him to describe the reaction he’d received in New Hampshire: “I think they’ve been very, very friendly,” Perry said slowly. “What a beautiful state. Elm Street is pretty magnificent.”
And then he was off, advance staff warning reporters and photographers to clear the road so as to not get run over. It was a similar scene at his next stop in Nashua, where he met with business leaders after a tightly controlled tour of the factory floor in safety goggles.
On his way to the car, he again breezed past reporters who asked about rival Mitt Romney and Bernanke, among other issues. The Texas Governor saluted.
“How could you not be good in this beautiful weather,” he replied.