URBANDALE, Iowa — Texas Gov. Rick Perry, seeking to generate momentum in advance of Tuesday’s Iowa caucuses, cast himself Wednesday as the one true outsider in the Republican presidential field who can shrink government and shake up the Washington bureaucracy.
“Why should you settle for anything less than an authentic conservative who’s going to fight for your views and your values without apology?” he asked a packed room at the Iowa Machine Shed restaurant early Wednesday morning.
At a breakfast meeting of the West Side Conservative Club, Perry poked at the front-runners in the race, though not by name, as little more than pallid replacement representatives of the status quo under President Obama.
“I’ve got great respect for all those folks that are on the stage with me, the ones who are called the so-called front-runners right now. But you’ve got to ask yourselves, if we replace a Democrat insider with a Republican insider, is Washington going to change?”
Perry said that those front-running rivals had supported Wall Street bailouts and an individual mandate for health care. “You don’t have to resign yourself to voting for the wasteful Washington spending culture of earmarks and deficit spending and this ever-rising debt,” he said.
He also swiped at Ron Paul, although again without naming him, when he said, “You don’t have to vote for a candidate who will allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, because America will be next.”
Perry described himself as “that limited government conservative” who would go to Washington and “give it a complete overhaul.” He said it will take “an anti-establishment outsider who is willing to step on a few toes” to shrink government spending and reduce federal regulations. “I’ve been pushing back against Washington, D.C. for 11 years,” he said.
Perry’s appearance at the breakfast got off to an awkward start when he was introduced by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the tough anti-immigration law enforcement official from Arizona. Arpaio blundered when he told the audience that he was enjoying getting to know Iowa as he traveled with Perry.
“Was it the Buckeyes?” he asked to groans.
Buckeyes, of course, is the nickname of Ohio residents. Iowa is the Hawkeye State.
“You’re not going to live that down for a while,” said Perry, who has had his share of oops moments in the campaign.