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Rick Perry tries to regain footing after GOP debate

September 23, 2011|By Michael Muskal
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), at the Orange County Convention Center, in Orlando, Fla. On Saturday, the GOP presidential candidates will run in the Florida straw poll.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference… (Mark Wilson/Getty Images )

Texas Gov. Rick Perry told Florida conservatives what they wanted to hear on Friday, as the front-runner tried to reassert himself in the battle for the Republican nomination.

The day after Perry had a less than stellar performance at the Fox News/Google GOP presidential debate in Orlando, Fla., he returned to familiar ground, tossing conservatives the kind of red meat on which they feasted.
Perry attacked his leading rival, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Obama administration, government regulation, taxes and even $16 muffins as he preached to what should be a core group supporting his presidential bid. He even got in a dig against former President Bill Clinton.

Warning conservatives to look  “not at who is the slickest candidate and smoothest debater,”  Perry disparaged Obama as someone who “can sure talk a good game.” He then went to bring in Clinton who was so verbally slick he could “sell ice cubes to Eskimos and the next day be against ice cubes,” Perry said.

If citing Clinton was bringing out an old target for the conservative audience, Perry also had a moment of positive reinforcement, quoting former President Ronald Reagan: “We need bold colors, not pale pastels.”

He blamed the Obama administration for the current economic woes including high unemployment, the recent down-grading of the nation’s credit rating, plans to increase the costs of veterans health insurance when they retire and the record debt.

 “In Washington they call this the recovery,” Perry said. “In the rest of America we call this a failure.”

He noted reports this week that federal officials had paid $16 for a muffin at a conference, reports that officials and the hotel have rejected, saying that the figure included fruit and drinks. Still, the expenditures have been like waving a red flag to some conservatives.

“You want to be in the muffin business,” Perry said. “Don’t tell me there isn’t waste to be cut.”

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