DES MOINES, Iowa — Gov. Rick Perry dismissed questions about his much-mocked appearance in New Hampshire last week, saying Tuesday he was happy with the response he got and “felt great” during the speech that has since become an internet sensation.
Perry seemed fidgety and full of exuberance during the remarks, recorded in New Hampshire on Friday night and posted on YouTube over the weekend. The highlights reel of Perry’s remarks went viral, getting over 600,000 hits on the site by Tuesday and becoming fodder for the late-night comedy shows.
The governor said a review of the whole speech, which lasted 25 minutes, does not reveal anything that hasn’t been revealed before. The Texas governor referred to a largely positive review of the speech, written by veteran Washington Post political reporter Dan Balz.
“He saw the whole thing, and I think his report was that this was the Rick Perry we’ve seen before. It was a great crowd. Good response,” Perry said. “I guess you can do anything you want with a video and make it look any way you want, but I felt good, felt great. I think the message got across very well, so it was a good speech.”
Balz wrote in his story, published Saturday, that Perry got a standing ovation at the Friday night speech hosted by Cornerstone New Hampshire, a conservative activist group.
Perry has scheduled a series of events this week in first-test Iowa, where he is hoping to get his campaign back on track after unsteady debate performances and multiple, unplanned distractions. He said voters here could expect to see a “very energized, very focused” candidate.
The governor spoke to reporters at the Drake Diner in Des Moines after meeting with voters and eating lunch with Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. Perry had appeared earlier at a televised forum in Pella, where several other presidential candidates also spoke.
During his remarks to the media, Perry sidestepped another controversy — reports that Herman Cain faced sexual harassment allegations while he was CEO of the National Restaurant Association. Cain has said he never sexually harassed anyone but has given conflicting stories about what he knew of the accusations and how the association dealt with them.
Various early-state and national polls have shown Cain far ahead of Perry, but the governor did not pile on the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza.
“As a good rule of thumb, until things go past allegations to a fact, I just try to leave them alone,” Perry said.
Perry didn’t go as easy on another rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Perry was asked to respond to a press release from the Romney campaign, which said that the Texas governor was “wrong for Iowa.”
“Well I think Iowans are the ones who will decide who’s right for Iowa, not some candidate, so we’re going to be talking about taxes, we’re going to be talking about regulation which most people in Iowa think are too high and too onerous, and you know look at our tax plans and Iowans will have an opportunity to do that,” Perry said.
“Twenty percent flat tax on the personal side versus Mr. Romney, [who] wants to leave the same tax rates in place. I don’t think Iowans are going to like that. … Anyway, it’s the people of Iowa that decide the next president, not the candidates’ opinion and not the pundits’ opinion.”
In the press release, the Romney campaign also attacked Perry’s latest jobs proposal.
“He is promising job creation that would fail to even keep pace with population growth,” said Romney spokesman Ryan Williams.
When Perry talked about his plan on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace told the Texas governor the jobs figure was “terrible” and said he would need to propose creating at least 6 million jobs in four years or face higher U.S. unemployment.
Perry had included the 2.5 million figure in his first paid TV ad, which ran on TV stations in Iowa.
Perry said Monday that if you look at the “entire package we lay out,” the job creation figures will rise. He did not give a precise figure for the number of jobs his proposals would eventually generate.
“I think the sky’s the limit on the number of jobs that get created,” Perry said. “2.5 million, I think obviously is a very, very cautious and lowball if you will. The sky’s the limit on job creation if you don’t overtax and overregulate.”
Perry is trailing badly here, tied for fifth place with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, according to a recent Des Moines Register poll. He appeared at three events Tuesday and has more scheduled Thursday and Friday.
Wearing his trademark cowboy boots and jovially chatting with voters, Perry said he was ready to take a “wrecking ball” and a “sledgehammer” to a spendthrift Washington.
"I may have to bring my own barrel of ink for my veto pen but let me tell you one thing, earmarks they're gone, spending that is more than what we're bringing in, it's gone,” Perry said. “That's what we're going to do."
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