MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa — On the penultimate day of his pre-Christmas bus tour through Iowa, Gov. Rick Perry laid out an outline — a very skeletal outline — of the first hundred days of his hypothetical presidency.
He was asked to list his top three priorities for his first 100 days as president by Margi Mountz, who is the director of religious education at a local Catholic church. Perry did not have to stray far from the script of the speeches he’s been delivering across the state to answer her question.
The first thing he would do, he said, is issue an executive order eliminating as much as possible of the federal health care reform legislation passed under President Obama.
“From the time the election’s over with until [the] inaugural, we will be working on a host of pieces of legislation that we will be going forward with,” Perry said. One of those would wipe out the remaining parts of so-called “Obamacare.”
Then, Perry said, he would focus on “continuing to give direct instructions to the Department of Interior and the EPA on the energy front, opening up our lands and waters.” Perry said he hopes Obama will approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to bring crude oil down from Canada, and to get construction under way by January 2013. If it’s not, Perry said, as president, he would do the honors.
Perry also recommended that caucus-goers check out the flat tax proposal on his website. Unlike Tuesday, when Perry needed the help of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal — who had been touring with Perry for the last two days, but peeled off prior to the stop in Mount Pleasant — to accurately recall the details of the standard deduction in his own plan, Perry made a point of telling the audience that it increases to $12,500 per person.
Mountz said she liked Perry’s list, though she hasn’t yet settled on a final choice in the GOP race. “He’s definitely in my top three,” she said of Perry, who is joined on her favorites list by Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney.
In addition to Perry’s list, she said that she’d also like to see No Child Left Behind reworked, the abolition of the departments of education and energy, and for the next president to “fix” immigration.
She speculated that Perry’s pitch was likely resonating with her fellow Iowans. “He’s very down to earth, as most Iowans are,” she said. “Mount Pleasant is just so typical of Iowa. Small town, good people, they care about their neighbors. He sounds like he comes from that kind of background."
As for Perry’s propensity for gaffes, she said: “That doesn’t bother me. When you’re talking to as many people as these people talk to, you’re going to make some mistakes.”
George Wheat, a retired college professor from Mount Pleasant, passed by as Mountz talked to reporters, and he emphatically agreed. “You’d better believe it. We all can forget something,” he said. “That represents 95 percent of the people.”
Earlier in the day, Perry acknowledged his propensity for gaffes. At a stop in Muscatine — the only other stump speech of the day — he was asked what role prayer played in his life.
His response: “I prayed right before I walked over here that I wouldn’t make any mistakes that my friends in the media would be able to put on television.”
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