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Perry says Bush never was fiscal conservative

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.statesman.com/news/content/region/legislature/stories/12/14/1214perry.html Perry says Bush never was fiscal conservative Texas governor makes
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 14, 2007
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      Perry says Bush never was fiscal conservative
      Texas governor makes pointed remarks at a party
      fanning support for Giuliani.
      By W. Gardner Selby
      Friday, December 14, 2007

      Texas Gov. Rick Perry aired unusually pointed
      criticism of President Bush while stumping in Iowa for
      Rudy Giuliani for president last week. Perry predicted
      too that if Democrats prevail next year, the war on
      terrorism will return to U.S. soil.

      Video posted online shows Perry saying that Bush
      failed to rein in spending increases as governor of
      Texas and "has never ever been a fiscal conservative."
      He also said Washington isn't working.

      And although Giuliani would keep up the war on
      terrorism, Perry said, "if we elect the Democrats
      across the board, the war on terror is not going away.
      It's just going to have to happen here. And I want the
      war, and I want the conflict, to be over there in
      their country. I want to stop it over there before
      they get back over here."

      Perry also revealed in his Iowa appearance that GOP
      presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, the former
      Arkansas governor, had asked Perry to chair his
      campaign earlier this year.

      "It was a hard conversation to call him and tell him I
      was for Rudy," Perry said. "He was disappointed, a bit
      frustrated. I still love him, and he still loves me."

      Perry, who has tentative plans to campaign for
      Giuliani in South Carolina and New Hampshire next
      week, spoke to 20 to 30 people at an evening house
      party promoting Giuliani in Ely, Iowa, on Dec. 6, less
      than a month before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses kick off
      the election year.

      Video snippets from the stop, which followed Perry's
      appearance at a Christmas party thrown by a local
      Republican group, were posted on YouTube.com by the
      party's host, Craig Nelson.

      Nelson, an accountant who works in nearby Cedar
      Rapids, said he met Perry at a gathering of business
      leaders and elected officials in Cedar Rapids when the
      Texan endorsed Giuliani on Oct. 17.

      Of the governor's stop at his house, Nelson said
      Thursday: "I just thought he was very honest. I didn't
      expect anything else from him."

      Perry, who spoke in Nelson's living room after a drive
      through several inches of fresh snow, cast Giuliani as
      someone who could work with Democrats to make progress
      in Washington where "it ain't working today. They are
      spending too much money, it takes too long and they're
      doing more harm than good."

      Perry called Giuliani a fiscal conservative, unlike
      Bush, who preceded Perry as governor.

      Perry, responding to a party guest's suggestion that
      federal spending could kill candidates with voters,
      said that as governor, Bush consistently signed into
      law budget increases.

      "Let me tell you something," Perry said: "George Bush
      was never a fiscal conservative. Never was. ... Wasn't
      when he was in Texas. ... I mean, '95, '97, '99,
      George Bush was spending money."

      Perry turned to his press secretary, Robert Black, who
      had joined him at the Iowa stop.

      "Do you agree?" the governor asked.

      Black nodded.

      Perry said that as governor, Bush signed a 1997 law
      making it harder to file lawsuits in Texas.

      "It was OK," Perry said. "I mean, they did some things
      in '97 that was better than what we had, it wasn't
      anything like we did (on tort reform) in 2003. But
      George was never a fiscal conservative. I think people
      thought he was."

      Perry raised his arms and fluttered his hands before
      adding: "Look, he was better than Al Gore," the 2000
      Democratic presidential nominee versus Bush.

      Gov. Bush had to work with Democrats holding the jobs
      of lieutenant governor and speaker of the Texas House,
      Perry noted.

      But, Perry said, every governor has veto powers. "And,
      frankly, my criticism is that he (Bush) should have
      told those guys (Democrats), look, you're spending too
      much money, and I'm going to veto some line items (in
      the state budget)."

      Perry described Giuliani as a fiscal conservative and
      supply-side Ronald Reagan Republican.

      Perry said: "George Bush is not, and he never was." He
      added that "we made an error with that phrase
      'compassionate conservative.' He didn't elaborate on
      the description that Bush applied to himself in the
      2000 campaign.

      The Bush critique was more direct than what Perry said
      at an April 2004 rally at the Texas Capitol urging
      real tax relief "instead of some tax charade that's
      been going on the last decade," a statement his office
      described then as taking in two rounds of cuts under
      Bush, governor from 1995 until late 2000.

      Perry, who like Huckabee but unlike Giuliani has
      opposed abortion and gay rights, said in Iowa that
      Huckabee "asked me to be his national chairman about
      six months ago. And I told him, man, I love you like a
      brother. But, I said, just let me, let me, let me
      slide here."

      Perry and Huckabee visited troops in Iraq together in
      early 2006. Huckabee also visited Perry, Lt. Gov.
      David Dewhurst and state Comptroller Susan Combs in
      Austin in July.

      In Austin on Tuesday, Perry briefly called Huckabee
      his favorite for president before saying he'd
      misspoken and supports Giuliani.

      In Iowa, Perry said of Huckabee: "I just don't think
      he can win."

      Huckabee's campaign did not return a phone call
      seeking comment.

      Framing his case for Giuliani, Perry said that as
      mayor of New York, Giuliani erased debts, cut taxes
      and presided over reductions in crime.

      The governor suggested that steering New York is more
      of a challenge than leading Arkansas or Massachusetts,
      where GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney was
      governor from 2003 through 2006.

      "No offense to Arkansas, no offense to Massachusetts;
      they're not big states," Perry said. "And managing one
      of those states is different than managing Texas or
      California or Florida or New York."

      Perry sounded wary of U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New
      York, who's been a front-running Democratic
      presidential candidate.

      "I care about our country," Perry said. "I care about
      not letting Hillary Clinton be the next president of
      the United States."

      wgselby@..., 445-3644
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