Perry, Swagger In Full Effect, Calls For Flat Tax

Gov. Rick Perry while leaving the Republican presidential debate at Dartmouth College on Oct. 11, 2011.
Gov. Rick Perry while leaving the Republican presidential debate at Dartmouth College on Oct. 11, 2011.

LAS VEGAS — Gov. Rick Perry, giving a sneak peek of his forthcoming economic policy initiative, called for a flat tax Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Perry said getting rid of the income tax as Americans know it would be the centerpiece of his plan to spur economic growth and create jobs. Perry is expected to unveil the proposal in South Carolina on Tuesday.

“In six days I’m going to release the details of an economic growth package that will create jobs, create growth, create investor confidence in America again,” Perry told Republican activists here. “It starts with… scrapping the three million words of the current tax code, starting over with something simple: a flat tax.”

Perry did not elaborate on the plan, but a flat tax — as opposed to graduated income rates that require wealthy Americans to pay more — is popular with many Tea Party conservatives.

The Texas governor also highlighted his proposal to increase fossil fuel exploration in America, calling the United States the “Saudi Arabia of coal.”

Perry seemed like his old brash self — confident and energized — during the brief speech to conservative activists at the Western Republican Leadership Conference. It came only hours after Perry turned in his best debate performance yet.

The governor was introduced Wednesday by Texas state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, who had been sitting in the studio audience in Las Vegas. The senator said she saw a version of Perry in the CNN debate Tuesday night that had been missing in the previous ones.

“I think we’re seeing more of the real Rick Perry,” she said. “I think he’s starting to feel more comfortable in the format of the debates.” She also confirmed what seemed apparent on television — that some in the audience booed Perry at times. She said the crowd was heavily tilted toward Perry’s chief rival, Mitt Romney.

“There was some booing, but (Perry) wasn’t the only one who got booed,” Huffman said. “I thought the audience was stacked toward Romney. They were more Romney supporters than Perry supporters.”

In his remarks on Wednesday, the swagger-prone governor appeared to attack the new conventional wisdom — that he’s sunk so low in opinion polls that he can’t come back.

He said the “pundits and the establishment” are wrong to think they will choose the next Republican presidential nominee.

“The primary voters and caucus voters haven’t gotten that memo yet,” Perry said, adding: “I am not the candidate of the establishment. You won’t hear a lot of shifting nuance from me. I’m going to give the American people a huge, big ‘ole helpin’ of unbridled truth.

Before he left the stage Perry urged the voters to “reject the cynical politics of the nanny state” and get Washington “out of the way.”

“Let’s do it,” he yelled. “Let’s roll!”

A couple of hours after Perry spoke, Texas First Lady Anita Perry addressed a gathering of the Republican Women of Las Vegas. She assured the crowd that her whole family, down to the pets, were enthusiastically behind the governor.

“I’m all in with his candidacy. Our children are all in. Our four dogs are all in,” she said. “Because you know sometimes when nobody else loves you your dogs do.”

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