Perry back in N.H., facing voters

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, with son Griffin, attends a Politics and Eggs breakfast today in Bedford, N.H.
Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, with son Griffin, attends a Politics and Eggs breakfast today in Bedford, N.H. –Cheryl Senter/AP

BEDFORD, N.H. – Texas Governor Rick Perry brought his nascent presidential campaign back to New Hampshire this morning, trying to emphasize economic themes before a crowd hungry to get a taste of the newest Republican candidate in the race.

“I’m straight up about it: I’m running for president because we got to get people working again,’’ he said to a packed audience at a local staple, a Politics and Eggs breakfast.

“Live free or die,’’ he added, of the New Hampshire motto. “You got to love that.’’

Perry came to the backyard of Mitt Romney, the GOP front-runner who has emphasized the Granite State’s first-in-the-nation primary more than any other early-voting state. At the same time as Perry was in Bedford, Romney was touring a small business in Berlin.

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It was clear from the size of the crowd – which some described as the biggest in years, with a full parking lot and cars pulling off to the side of the road – that New Hampshire residents are willing to be swayed by a new choice in the race.

Perry took 10 questions from the audience – calling on them with a drawled “Yes ma’am,’’ and “Yessir’’ – but avoided any questions from the large media contingent as he made his way to his car. He also spoke from prepared remarks, and appeared determined to avoid making controversial statements like he did Monday, when he said the actions of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke may border on treason.

“I got in trouble about talking about the Federal Reserve yesterday. I got lectured about that yesterday,’’ Perry told the audience, even as he stuck by the statement that it would be “treasonous’’ for the Federal Reserve to “print more money’’ in an attempt to boost the economy.

“There have been a number of politicians who have stood up and really questioned the transparency of the Federal Reserve,’’ he said. “They should open their books up. They should be transparent so that the people of the United States know what they are doing and how they are doing it. Until they do that there will continue to be questions about their activity and what their true goal is for the United States.’’

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His comments about treason – he also said of Bernanke, “I don’t know what you all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas’’ – were criticized by the White House.

“Yesterday the president said I needed to watch what I say,’’ Perry said this morning. “I just want to respond back, if I may. Mr. President, actions speak louder than words. And my actions as governor are helping create jobs in this country. The president’s actions are killing jobs in this country. It’s time to get America working again.’’

Perry this morning also said that, if president, he would not have signed the debt ceiling compromise legislation. And he said global warming was not caused by humans, and was based on manipulated data from scientists. That could become a key distinction with Romney, who has said he believes global warming is caused by humans.

Perry also endorsed an idea to allow American corporations to have a break on overseas profits that are now subject to a 35 percent tax.

“Why not look at how you might repatriate those dollars and have those focused on job creation?’’ Perry said. “Have them come in substantially less, say something like zero if it’s for job creation.’’

Romney has also endorsed the idea, but has not provided a specific figure for the tax reduction.

When asked to explain why General Electric doesn’t pay taxes, Perry said he was at a loss – and criticized parts of the tax code that allow corporations to take major deductions.

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“I can’t. I can’t explain that,’’ he said. “The idea that just because you have a good relationship with the political world in Washington DC … is not a good enough reason that you don’t have to pay your fair share.’’

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