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Perry: “A Lot” of Democrats Voted in Iowa Caucuses

Photo by Matt Largey, KUT News

Governor Rick Perry, in justifying his decision to stay in the GOP presidential contest, said the Iowa caucuses were “loosey goosey” and allowed a lot of Democrats to participate.

Perry came in fifth in last night’s Iowa contest, and said he was headed back to Texas to “reassess” his presidential campaign. Then late this morning, Perry tweeted that he was continuing on to South Carolina. 

KUT's Matt Largey was one of a group of reporters who caught up with Governor Perry in the lobby of the Sheraton West Des Moines as the candidate explained his decision.

Rick Perry: I just said I was going to reassess last night. I reassessed. We’re headed to New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Reporter: So you’ll participate in both debates?

Perry: Oh yeah, absolutely.

Reporter: Were you on a run this morning when you decided?

Perry: I was out on the trail when it kind of came to me.

Reporter: Where was that photograph taken, Governor?

Perry: It’s on Raccoon Creek Park, where you all should have been this morning getting your exercise in.

Reporter: Would have been there if you had told us. [laughter]

Perry: I know, I know you would have.

Reporter: You were trying to find a path forward. You have found a path forward?

Perry: Yeah, absolutely.

Reporter: What is it?

Perry: You’ll all just have to wait and see. It’s there. It’s clearly there. South Carolina is a place that I feel very comfortable that the values and the people and the time that we spent there. We’re going to give the people of South Carolina, New Hampshire, America a choice in this election. That’s what this process is all about. I look forward to continuing on the trail. I’m excited. It’s going to be fun. All our friends in New Hampshire, get ready, here we come.

Reporter: Do you doubt [Rick] Santorum and [Ron] Paul’s staying power in this race?

Perry: I’m not worried about anybody else. I’m going to delineate and characterize the differences in the candidates, and there are huge differences. These guys are all insiders that have spent years and years in Washington, D.C. They’re the reason that this country is broken. The earmarks. The spending habits that’s been built up in Washington D.C. They need an outsider. I think Americans are looking for that alternative and looking for that choice and I’m it.

Reporter: Will you be changing your team at all?

Perry: I don’t know what you mean by changing my team. I’m not changing. I’m still the same guy I always was. I’m going to keep my wife. [laughter]

Reporter: Any staff changes?

Perry: I don’t have any idea. That’s not my area of expertise. I leave that to [campaign advisor] Joe Allbaugh.

Reporter: Who have you talked to about this decision?

Perry: I talked to my campaign staff. Senior guys. Allbaugh, Sulivan. This wasn’t a hard decision. This was one of those where you take a look. You didn’t do as well in Iowa as you wanted to. But this is a quirky place and quirky process to say the least.

We’re going to go into places where they have actual primaries, and there are going to be real Republicans voting. I’m excited about getting out with real Republicans and laying out the – not that there aren’t real Republicans here in Iowa. But the fact is, it was a pretty loosey goosey process. You had a lot of people who were there that admitted they were Democrats, voting in the caucuses last night.

I’m pretty sure that there will be serious conservatives that understand that you’ve got to have a strong military. Understand that we want strong drug laws. Understand that we want a spending habit that is out of control in Washington D.C. broken.

Those earmarks are the gateways drugs to the spending addition they’ve got in Washington D.C. and I’m going to break them of that habit. Thank you.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.
Matt Largey is the Projects Editor at KUT. That means doing a little bit of everything: editing reporters, producing podcasts, reporting, training, producing live events and always being on the lookout for things that make his ears perk up. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mattlargey.
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