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The Brief: Aug. 16, 2011

A buoyant Rick Perry, still just three days into his nascent campaign, tested the boundaries of fiery rhetoric on Monday.

Governor of Texas Rick Perry speaks at the soapbox at the Iowa State Fair on August 15, 2011.

The Big Conversation:

A buoyant Rick Perry, still just three days into his nascent campaign, tested the boundaries of fiery rhetoric on Monday.

Perry, after a day of aggressive campaigning that started at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, told a group of Republicans in Cedar Rapids that it'd be almost "treasonous" for Ben Bernanke, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, to print more money to try to boost the economy.

“If this guy prints more between now and the election, I don’t know what y’all would do to 'em in Iowa, but we would treat 'em pretty ugly down in Texas,” Perry said in response to a question from the audience, according to the Tribune's Jay Root. “I mean, printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous, or treasonous, in my opinion."

Critics of Perry immediately pounced on the comment, but one rebuke came from an unlikely source: Tony Fratto, the former deputy press secretary to President George W. Bush. On Twitter, Fratto called Perry's remark "inappropriate and unpresidential."

Binyamin Appelbaum, The New York Times' Washington correspondent, also caused a minor stir when he tweeted, "Perry's remarks about Bernanke are horrifying. Full stop. This is a major party presidential candidate?" (The Weekly Standard quickly took issue.)

Though it likely presents little political risk in a Republican primary context, Perry's comment highlights the rhetorical flourishes and unbridled swagger that he may have to rein in as scrutiny of his every move intensifies.

Earlier on Monday, in Des Moines, Perry also took his first direct jabs at his chief foil, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. “Take a look at his record when he was governor; take a look at my record,” Perry said of Romney, at one point adding, “Give him my love."

But Perry reserved his sharpest critiques for President Obama. “I think you want a president who is passionate about America — that’s in love with America," Perry told a crowd at the state fair. A day earlier, Perry suggested that U.S. troops don't respect Obama.

Meanwhile, as The Wall Street Journal reports, the Obama campaign, though now intently studying the prospect of a Perry candidacy, has yet to shift its overall general election strategy. “I’m glad he declared his love for America," David Axelrod, Obama's campaign adviser, told the Journal. "Last I checked, he was suggesting that Texas might secede from America, so this is real progress!”

Culled:

  • Politico has a look today at Rick Perry's involvement with a controversial lobbyist, Stephen Payne, whose ties to U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison the governor attacked during last year's gubernatorial primary. "Perry fundraisers and allies," Politico says, worry privately that the issue raises the larger question of whether Perry can raise money — and catch up to front-runner Mitt Romney — while under intense scrutiny and the constraints of stricter federal rules.
  • The media's anointment of Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential field's top tier has Ron Paul supporters fuming, especially after the congressman's strong, second-place finish at the Ames Straw Poll this weekend. “We are certainly disappointed, and we think that people are missing a very big story here,” Jesse Benton, Paul’s campaign manager, told Politico. (And, in case you missed it last night, Jon Stewart concurs.) Paul's new ad, in fact, takes direct aim at Bachmann, Perry and Romney, using images of the three — along with that of President Obama — to decry "smooth-talking politicians" and games of "he said, she said."
  • Former state Comptroller John Sharp on Monday was named the sole finalist for the job of Texas A&M University System chancellor. In an interview with the Trib's Reeve Hamilton, Sharp talks about the new job, the recent controversy surrounding higher ed reform in Texas, and how he gets along with a certain Texas presidential candidate with whom he was good friends during their college years.

“I got tickled by watching Gov. Perry announce … for president. He’s a good-looking rascal.” — Bill Clinton, at a firefighters conference in New York City on Monday

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