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Perry Urges Voters to "Browbeat" Members of Congress

Rick Perry at a house party in New Hampshire on Sept. 3, 2011.
Photo by Jay Root, Texas Tribune
Rick Perry at a house party in New Hampshire on Sept. 3, 2011.

Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday that Americans would have to “browbeat” members of Congress into accepting his plan to slash their pay and limit the amount of time they spend in Washington.

“It’s up to us as citizens and a president who is not willing to just go up there and become part of that culture,” Perry told workers at a manufacturing facility in Manchester. “I need you. I need people to rise up all across this country and to say, 'You know what, Perry's got an idea here of making Congress part time that makes sense.'”

He urged voters to join him in a bid to “browbeat the members of Congress publicly” to enact the reform plan.

Perry is pitching his “Uproot and Overhaul Washington” proposal in town hall meetings Wednesday in New Hampshire, which will hold the nation’s first primary on Jan. 10. Perry continues to stage events and runs ads here even though he has become a single-digit blip in public opinion polls.

A new Bloomberg Poll showed Perry at a paltry 3 percent. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was at 40 percent in the poll.

Perry spoke to a polite but somewhat skeptical audience. Some doubted whether he could get legislation passed that would radically reform the way members of Congress conduct their business.

“They’re making the laws,” said Mark Soucy, who works as inspector at the Granite State Manufacturing facility in Manchester where Perry spoke Wednesday morning. “It’s going to be hard to push something like that through. I’d be more interested in term limits.”

Perry, the longest serving governor in Texas history (and first elected to state office in 1984) has long been opposed term limits for elected officials. He’s also found himself targeted by criticism that he is exactly what he wants to get rid of — a career politician.

Since announcing his plan, which does include term limits for federal judges who currently get lifetime appointments, Perry is stressing that he’s never been part of the Washington establishment that he now wants to change. He would also make Congress more like a state legislature, such as Texas', meeting part-time and being allowed to work like regular citizens back in their districts.

“You know, my wife and my family pretty much, I think, the dogs love me," he said. "I’m not going to Washington, D.C. to make new friends. I’m going to Washington to make a difference.”


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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