Perry Barnstorms Iowa
Texas Governor Rick Perry wrapped up the first of his bus tours through Iowa Sunday, — after dozens of stops that were a mix of stump speeches, working the crowd and good ol’ Texas charm. Perry’s trying to drum up support for the January 3rd Caucuses. The message of the week was: “Vote the outsider into Washington — and shake things up.”
Perry spent the weekend rattling off a laundry list of campaign promises during each of the stops on his bus tout. Messages that are by now familiar to Texans following his fortunes: a flat tax proposal, energy independence, securing the U.S./Mexico border.
But on this tour, the governor’s message was somewhat malleable: By Sunday, he kicked off each appearance with attacks on current frontrunners, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, throwing in a call to dismantle Washington’s power structure.
“Insiders are not going to bring real change. It’s going to take a serious outsider who will walk into Washington D.C. and shake up that place. And I will suggest to you that I’m that outsider that will do it,” Perry said.
Perhaps the most enthusiastic crowd was in New Hampton, Iowa Sunday afternoon. Several people there said they would caucus for Perry, and that they felt like momentum was beginning to swing his way. Todd Becker was one of those supporters.
“I think he’s come to that point where it’s turning around again. I think so,” Becker said. “I think you’ll see that happen right after the caucus, see how well he does. And then he moves into the bigger theaters. Yeah I think so, it will all help him.”
Though the last crowd on the day’s itinerary was a little less positive. In Decorah, Iowa, voters sat on their hands for most of Perry’s speech, neither applauding nor laughing at lines that had worked for the candidate earlier in the day. When Perry took questions from the crowd, Rebecka Green asked him how he could support the oil and gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracking, when an EPA study had shown it pollutes ground water.
“We can have this conversation,” Perry replied, “but you can not show me one place where there is a proven, not one, where there is a proven pollution of ground water by hydraulic fracking.”
Perry has presided over a fracking boom in Texas. During his tenure as governor, both the Eagle Ford shale and the Barnett shale have proved highly lucrative for both landowners and oil and gas companies. Though the EPA’s report is specific to Pavillion, Wyoming, it has raised new concerns that fracking, which has also been linked to shallow earthquakes, is not sufficiently understood. An editorial released late Sunday night by the Wall Street journal said, among other limitations, the study needs to be peer reviewed.
Perry will campaign in Iowa through Thursday, then fly back to Texas for a Christmas break, before returning to the road in the days leading up to the caucuses.