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Swagger In Check (a Bit), Perry Responds to Obama

Photo by Jay Root/The Texas Tribune

BEDFORD, New Hampshire — A day after the White House and even some fellow Republicans admonished Gov. Rick Perry for warning of potentially “treasonous” acts by the U.S. Federal Reserve chairman, the governor responded — more politely this time.

With a little less Texas swagger, but issuing a direct challenge nevertheless to President Barack Obama, Perry said his record on jobs in Texas was all the response he needed to give.

“Yesterday the president said I needed to watch what I said,” Perry told a bipartisan gathering, a tradition-steeped event called “Politics and Eggs,” at the Bedford Village Inn. “I just want to respond back if I may: Mr. President, actions speak louder than words.”

“My actions as governor are helping create jobs in this country. The president’s actions are killing jobs in this country. It’s time to get Americans working again.”

Perry had been criticized a day before, even from within his own Republican Party, for some heated barbs thrown at U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Perry said things would get “ugly” in Texas if the Fed chairman were to take the “almost treasonous” step of printing more money to prop up the U.S. economy before the 2012 presidential election.

GOP uber-strategist Karl Rove was among those who said Perry’s comments made the governor look too provincial, and not presidential enough.

The governor didn’t back down but has been a bit more subdued since making the comments. He joked about the controversy during a question-and-answer session after breakfast, when a man from the audience asked him about the record-keeping at the Federal Reserve.

“I got in trouble talking about the Federal Reserve,” Perry said. “I got lectured about that.”

In an interview with CNN, Obama said Perry’s remarks showed that he hadn’t quite adjusted yet to the glare of a national campaign.

"I think that everybody who runs for president, it probably takes them a little bit of time before they start realizing that this isn't like running for governor or running for senator or running for Congress, and you've got to be a little more careful about what you say," Obama told the news channel. "But I'll cut him some slack. He's only been at it for a few days now."

The Rick Perry that showed up in New Hampshire Wednesday was not the brash-talking Texan the nation saw in South Carolina and Iowa. It was the urbane visitor, here to promote job creation, low taxes and sensible regulation. But smooth delivery or not, Perry stayed on the offensive, including in his remarks about the Federal Reserve.

“The mistrust that is there today, if they would simply open up and be transparent with the American people, I think it would go a along way towards either finding out whether or not there is some activities that are improper or that they have been handling themselves quite well,” Perry said.

The breakfast and eggs event is known for grilling politicians, and there were some pointed questions, but for the most part it was a curious and polite crowd.  Perry again was asked about his controversial 2007 decision to require that girls entering the sixth grade be vaccinated against HPV, the most common sexually transmitted disease and the principal cause of cervical cancer. The governor again acknowledged he made a mistake by making the vaccine mandatory and said he had learned his lesson.

Perry was also asked about global warming, and he told the gathering that the issue had been “politicized.” He said many scientists had “maninupulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects” and again stated his opposition to “anti-carbon” programs that would cost billions of dollars to implement.

“I don't think from my perspective that I want America to be engaged in spending that much money on still a  scientific theory that has not been proven,”  Perry said.

Jay Root is a native of Liberty. He never knew any reporters growing up, and he has never taken a journalism class in his life. But somehow he got hooked on the news business. It all started when he walked into the offices of The Daily Texan, his college newspaper, during his last year at the University of Texas in 1987. He couldn't the resist the draw: it was the the biggest collection of misfits ever assembled. After graduating, he took a job at a Houston chemical company and realized it wasn't for him. Soon he was applying for an unpaid internship at the Houston Post in 1990, and it turned into a full-time job that same year. He has been a reporter ever since. He has covered natural disasters, live music and Texas politics — not necessarily in that order. He was Austin bureau chief of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for a dozen years, most of them good. He also covered politics and the Legislature for The Associated Press before joining the staff of the Tribune.
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