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Perry, O'Malley Face Off in Job Creation Debate

Gov. Rick Perry, who has targeted Maryland as part of his ongoing campaign to lure out-of-state companies to the Lone Star State, went head to head with Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on job creation on Wednesday.

Gov. Rick Perry discusses the merger of UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville in a speech in Brownsville on July 16, 2013.

Gov. Rick Perry, who has targeted Maryland as part of his ongoing campaign to lure out-of-state companies to the Lone Star State, went head to head with Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on job creation on Wednesday.

Perry and the Maryland governor faced off on CNN's Crossfire, debating differences beween Republican and Democratic strategies in the states to create jobs. Perry is currently on a job-poaching trip to Maryland, where he has spent the day meeting with business leaders, including gun manufacturer Beretta USA, as part of an effort to court businesses into Texas.

Perry opened the debate touting Texas job creation rates despite claims that many Texans are working minimum-wage jobs.

“It sounds to me like you’d rather have no job than a minimum-wage job,” Perry said. “You have to have these minimum-wage jobs to get people in the workforce, and then they work their way up. That’s how it works.”

O’Malley argued the Texas economy is not helping lift the middle class, and he contended that Perry has not made smart investments in the future.

“The governor has it half right. Job creation is critically important, and there is not progress without a job,” O’Malley said. “But we have to be about building an economy from the middle out, an economy that creates middle-class opportunity.”

Perry shot back, claiming that Maryland lost 4,700 jobs in July while Texas created more than 18,000 jobs.

The debate between the two governors, who are both said to be considering a presidential run in 2016, was the first time they’ve spoken since a Politico forum in 2011, when they each headed their party's governors associations, according to O’Malley.

During the debate on CNN, Perry highlighted companies that have expanded operations in Texas, including Facebook, eBay and Caterpillar, as an example of business moving into Texas and creating jobs.

Last week, Perry launched a $500,000 media buy in Maryland bashing O’Malley for turning Maryland into a “tax and fee state" and encourging businesses to move to Texas.

O’Malley has been vocal about his disregard for Perry’s campaign. Leading up to today’s debate, he wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post in which he criticized Perry for touting Texas’ business climate which O’Malley says is driven by low-paying jobs.

O’Malley isn’t the first governor to push back against Perry. Perry has also targeted other states led by Democratic governors, including California, New York and Missouri. In that state, Gov. Jay Nixon called Perry’s campaign a misleading attack after similar advertisements were launched in St. Louis.

Perry’s latest jobs campaign stint has also drawn criticism from his home state.

Texas for America’s Future, a Super PAC of Texans who opposed Perry’s 2012 failed run for president, launched a radio advertisement on Wednesday that bashes Perry for forgetting about problems back home while trying to lure out-of-state businesses back to Texas.

The radio spot, running on local Maryland talk radio stations, highlights Texas’ child poverty rate, low high school graduation rates and Texas’ ranking as the state with the highest rate of people without health insurance under Perry’s tenure.

“The trouble is, Rick's failed leadership is making these problems worse. The state of Perry will be great for business, all right, unless you like paved roads, an educated work force and air you want to breathe,” the advertisement says.

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