Saturday, December 15, 2007

Et Tu 39%?

Perry stands by criticism of Bush

President 'was never a fiscal conservative,' governor said in Iowa

December 15, 2007

The Dallas Morning News
Copyright 2007

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry offered no contrition Friday for a slap he took at President Bush last week in Iowa, when he said that even as Texas governor, Mr. Bush "was never a fiscal conservative."

President Bush appeared at a rally with Gov. Rick Perry last year at Reunion Arena in Dallas. Now Mr. Bush has become fodder for even home-state brethren like Mr. Perry.

But in political circles, the most remarkable aspect of the criticism was that it starkly showed that the once-golden Mr. Bush has become fodder even for the home-state brethren he helped into office.

Mr. Perry offered his analysis of Mr. Bush in the home of Republican activist Craig Nelson in Ely, Iowa, on Dec. 6, while campaigning on behalf of GOP presidential contender Rudy Giuliani.

"In '95, '97 and '99, George Bush was spending money. George has never, ever been a fiscal conservative," Mr. Perry told several dozen Iowans, according to a videotape of the gathering posted on YouTube.

"The governor of Texas does have veto power, and frankly, my criticism is that he should have told those guys that you're spending too much money," Mr. Perry said.

He went on to say, "Rudy is a real fiscal conservative. He really is. He's a supply-side-raised Republican. George Bush is not, and he never was."

On Friday, Mr. Perry said that, as governor, Mr. Bush focused on lawsuit limits, juvenile justice and improving public education. And while he led the way to improvements in those areas, Mr. Bush was not focused on reducing budgets.

"He was not focused on restraining spending or on shrinking government. He just wasn't," said Perry press secretary Robert Black.

White House spokesman Blair Jones wouldn't directly comment on how the president might feel about Mr. Perry and his critique, but he defended Mr. Bush's record.

"As governor of a fast-growing state, his budget grew less than population plus inflation. So, when he left office, the state was taking a smaller share of Texans' income than when he came in," Mr. Jones said.

The White House also mentioned something that Mr. Perry hadn't – that Mr. Perry had been presiding over the state Senate during the last two years of Mr. Bush's term, when some of the spending increases occurred.

"Rick Perry was a helpful lieutenant governor who worked with then-Governor Bush to cut taxes for the people of Texas," Mr. Jones said.

By comparison, state spending during the six years of Mr. Bush's term grew by 37 percent, or 12.5 percent per two-year budget. In Mr. Perry's eight years, state spending has grown almost 33 percent, or 8.2 percent per budget, Mr. Black said.

"The governor stands by his comments," Mr. Black said.

Despite the numbers that might substantiate Mr. Perry's claims, the statements against Mr. Bush indicate the political winds have shifted even in Texas, where GOP leaders never were heard to offer a discouraging word.

"It's never safe to attack a sitting incumbent president," said political consultant Bill Miller. "Has Bush become more fair game? Then the answer is yes, and that's indicated by Perry."

The governor's comments show that his allegiance is with Mr. Giuliani rather than his predecessor, Mr. Miller said.

"He felt those comments he made helped Giuliani, and the president be damned. Is that smart politics for Perry? It is in the selfish sense that it's in his interest to do so," Mr. Miller said.

The Giuliani campaign declined to comment.

Staff writer Todd J. Gillman in Washington contributed to this report.

© 2007 The Dallas Morning News:


Slip of endorsement tongue wasn't Freudian, governor says

Perry and his people say statement of support for Huckabee while filing primary papers for Giuliani was unintentional.

December 12, 2007

By W. Gardner Selby
Austin American-Statesman
Copyright 2007

Gov. Rick Perry, who has thrice stumped in the early-voting state of Iowa for Rudy Giuliani since endorsing the former New York mayor for president in October, expects to pitch for him in other states as soon as next week.

But he goofed — or threw a political knuckleball — Tuesday by momentarily saying he'd prefer former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who happens to be a social conservative more like Perry than Giuliani, who has supported abortion and gay rights. Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, also has surged in polls of Republican voters.

The apparent slip came after Perry submitted paperwork to the Republican Party of Texas placing Giuliani on the party's March 4 primary ballot in Texas.

He recapped his belief that Giuliani will still appoint strict constructionist judges to the U.S. Supreme Court — meaning judges who might restrict the right to an abortion.

Perry then said, "The issue becomes very, very clear to me from the standpoint of who I want to support. And it is Mike Huckabee.

"And then it goes to the next level, which is, who do we have who is the most electable of our candidates? And I think, without a doubt, it's Rudy Giuliani."

Informed that he'd thrown his support, ever briefly, to Huckabee, Perry said, "I'm sorry, I made an error. Thank you for bringing it to my attention."

Perry's spokesman, Robert Black, said the Huckabee mention was a mistake and no indication of a desire to shift candidates. Dave Carney, Perry's political consultant, said likewise: "He didn't know he said it until afterward. He likes Mike Huckabee, no question. (But) he's totally committed to Giuliani."

"I think the world of Mike Huckabee, an absolute great and good friend," said Perry, who leaped to Giuliani's camp on Oct. 17. "The bottom line is that we have some great candidates."

On a different front, Perry said he never considered endorsing U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, the Lake Jackson Republican who has done surprisingly well in fundraising.

"You get to make choices in life. And I made a choice that Ron Paul is not mine for president," Perry said. "Pretty simple for me; I didn't have to study that one too deep."

Paul spokesman Jesse Benton later said, "I wonder how that squares with Texans," referring to Perry's siding with Giuliani.

Perry submitted the filing papers for Giuliani accompanied by Pat Oxford of Houston, Giuliani's national campaign chairman. The Giuliani campaign is believed to be mulling trips for Perry to Florida, New Hampshire and South Carolina., 445-3644

© 2007 Austin American-Statesman:

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