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Rick Perry In Hot Water... With Republicans?

Ryan Faughnder |
August 19, 2011 | 9:41 a.m. PDT

Senior News Editor

When libertarian-leaning Texas Congressman Ron Paul says you make him look like a moderate on monetary policy, you may be touching a few nerves in your own party. That's where Texas Gov. Rick Perry finds himself nearly a week after entering the presidential race. It was a week peppered with inflammatory statements that made some Republicans question his ability to attract swing voters. 

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (eschipul, Flickr)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (eschipul, Flickr)

The most significant statement was aimed at Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke. At an Iowa campaign event, he had this to say of the Fed chief: “If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don't know what you all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treasonous in my opinion.”

A former Ronald Reagan adviser called Perry an "idiot" for making the remarks. Politico has a roundup of Republicans and conservatives criticizing Perry's speech and other statements, questioning his viability in 2012. Here's a sample:

House Republicans from heavily suburban districts were particularly uneasy about the Bernanke remark and Perry’s refusal to say whether President Barack Obama is a patriot. These members, some of them facing potentially tough reelection campaigns next year, urged the White House hopeful to stick to core issues of jobs and spending.

“You can’t be calling Bernanke a traitor and you can’t be questioning whether or not Barack Obama loves America, that type of thing,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and veteran Long Island incumbent. “I’ve been with Perry a few times, and I can see how he could project, again, if it’s done the right way. But no, if he continues this, he’ll have a tough time.”

Perry has also taken considerable heat for saying that climate change scientists manipulate data for financial gain, for questioning the theory of evolution, and for incorrectly saying that Texas public schools teach creationism. 

Perry, though, is running on a platform of job-creation and especially his economic record in the state of Texas, which has been a jobs machine compared with the rest of the economy. Perry credits low taxes and minimal regulation for the job growth, though, as the National Journal points out, that narrative isn't perfect. ProPublica has posted the litany of criticisms against Perry in a thorough summary. 

But, for all the in-party criticism of Perry, he appeals to conservative votes because, as the Economist puts it, he is an "all-in" conservative with Texas swagger. Moreover, the most resonant issue with voters is the economy. Republicans will have to wait to see if he will stay on message.

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