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Rick Perry Comes Out Swinging Before Debate

Rick Perry's front-running presidential campaign went on the attack a day before the Texas governor is scheduled to appear at his first nationally televised debate. The campaign hit both Mitt Romney, Perry's main challenger, and Ron Paul, who unveiled a new attack ad against the governor.

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Rick Perry's front-running presidential campaign went on the attack a day before the Texas governor is scheduled to appear at his first nationally televised debate.

In one press release Tuesday afternoon, the campaign hit Mitt Romney on his new job creation plan, unveiled by the former Massachusetts governor a few hours earlier during a highly anticipated speech in Las Vegas. The other one delivered a counter-punch to fellow Texan Ron Paul, who has unveiled an ad attacking Perry for supporting Al Gore for president in 1988.

Taken together, they demonstrate that Perry will not leave attacks unanswered for long — or go easy on Romney, his main challenger.

Romney issued a long and detailed jobs plan — 59 steps to stimulate employment with tax reductions, spending cuts and lowered regulations. Perry spokesman Mark Miner said Romney had the chance to do that in his home state but didn't.

"As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney failed to create a pro-jobs environment and failed to institute many of the reforms he now claims to support," Miner said.

The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the attack.

Miner was more harsh in his assessment of Paul. The Texas congressman has cut a 60-second ad attacking Perry for his support, during the 1988 presidential campaign, of then-U.S. Sen. Al Gore. Perry was a Democrat at the time. In the ad, Paul portrays himself as a foot soldier in Ronald Reagan's conservative revolution and criticizes Perry for fighting to undo all the good Reagan did.

But Miner noted that Paul left the Republican Party in 1987 to run for president as a Libertarian in 1988. In the letter, Paul describes in detail his disillusionment with Reagan and the Republican Party, concluding by saying that he wanted to "totally disassociate" himself with their policies. Paul later rejoined the GOP and was re-elected to Congress.

He mounted an unsuccessful bid for president in 2008, so 2012 is Paul's third try for the White House.

"Rep. Paul’s letter is a broadside attack on every element of President Reagan’s record and philosophy. Paul thought President Reagan was so bad, he left the GOP,” Miner said. “It will be interesting to hear Rep. Paul explain why Reagan drove him from the party at tomorrow’s debate on the grounds of the Reagan Library.”

Miner said Tuesday that Perry is planning to attend the debate in Simi Valley, Calif., even though the governor said it was a "fluid situation" on CBS's Early Show. Perry abruptly left the campaign trail this week to tend to wildfires back home. The debate, Perry's first on the national stage, will feature all the major presidential candidates. 

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