Perry no longer favors abortion ban exceptions for rape, incest (AUDIO)

Texas Governor Rick Perry was the first of four GOP candidates to speak tonight in a forum organized by PersonhoodUSA and moderated by Steve Deace, an Iowa-based, nationally-syndicated radio host.  Perry revealed he recently had a “fairly lengthy & heartfelt” conversation with a woman who was conceived in a rape.  

“She made a statement to me that was really profound and pierced my heart…All I can tell you was God was working on my heart,” Perry said of the conversation and his conversion.

Listen to the AUDIO of his remarks on this subject during tonight’s telephone town hall meeting.

“I don’t think the American people are ever going to agree to amnesty”

Texas Governor/GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry held a tele-town hall meeting this evening and the topic of illegal immigration was raised by Perry and then by some of the participants/callers.  Perry was hit earlier in the campaign by competitors who saw weakness in his position on the immigration issue. Tonight, Perry seems to be taking a swipe at rival Newt Gingrich who has suggested some sort of path to legal status for immigrants who’ve been in the country for years and have established roots in their communities.

During tonight’s call, a woman identified as Kathie (she might spell it Kathy or Cathy) asked for Perry’s “opinion” on amnesty.  “Do you support any type of it?” she asked.

“None whatsoever,” Perry replied. “The Dream Act that is in front of Washington, D.C. today is just a form of amnesty and I don’t think the American people are ever going to agree to amnesty in any form or fashion and, you know, the country is going to have a conversation about how to deal with immigration reform, but that is not going to happen until we secure the border.”

“So, you know, I certainly understand the media’s interest — if you will — in, you know, ‘Tell us what your plan will be to deal with these 11 or 12 million people that are already here?’ And I can assure you that we’re wise enough people to figure out how to deal with them, but it will not be amnesty in any form or fashion and I’m not going to get my eye off of the ball and the ball is to secure that border because if you don’t secure the border and if you don’t have a sustainable effort to secure the border, then all the talk that you have about immigration reform is just that. It’s just talk. It’s just posturing and I’m tired of that. I’m tired of Texas taxpayer money having to be spent to secure the border that the federal government is supposed to be doing and doing their constitutional duty.”

Earlier, during opening remarks on the call, Perry focused on border security.  He pledged to deport “every illegal criminal alien” caught in the country illegally.

“The idea that we have such a porous border today is just another example of just another example of how broken Washington is and we’ve got millions of individuals who are coming here illegally, including individuals who want to do harm to America and the Washington politicians, they posture and they talk instead of putting people on the border and assets on the border and the strategic fencing that actually needs to be put on that border to secure it and I’m the only candidate with a record of addressing border security.”

“…We’ve got $400 million worth of state resources in our joint surge operations that we’ve put on the border, to try to stop this trafficking of weapons and of drugs and of people and I’ve got a plan to secure the border and I made the commitment that a year from the day that I take my hand off the Bible when I’m inaugurated in January of 2013, from a year from that date that border will be secure.  That border will be shut down and at the same time we’ll be deploying thousands of national guard troops to get that job done while we’re training up those border patrol agents who can dramatically increase the manpower on the border as well. Build the strategic fencing, you know deploy the different technologies whether it’s predator drones or whatever type of assets that we need to be able to give real-time, live information to our fast response teams that can shut down the drug-running and the weapons running and the illegal activities that occurring on that border.”

“And another thing is we’ve got to stop this very dangerous Obama policy that I refer to as ‘catch and release’ where these criminal aliens are detained, yet under this administration, they’re basically released into the general population with a time and a date to come back for a hearing. Under my administration, we’ll detain and deport every illegal alien that we pick up and we’ll do so with expedited hearings on their citizenship status.”

“Win one for the gaffer”

I was enjoying a late dinner with friends last night at a neighborhood restaurant when a loud voice at a table on the opposite side of the room loudly said: “It made Howard Dean’s scream look like a Shakespearean soliloquy.”  The other five people at the table erupted into laughter.  Yes, they were talking about Rick Perry’s “moment” in the last debate.

Iowa Senate Republicans met in private at the statehouse yesterday to select a new leader. The process took more than three hours. Apparently, to break the tension, one of the senators shared with his colleagues a new slogan for the Perry campaign: “Win one for the gaffer.”  As the GOP senators milled about the senate during a break, the new slogan was shared with reporters sitting along the press bench.  The author of the slogan wishes to remain anonymous.

Jennifer Jacobs and Jason Clayworth of The Des Moines Register talked with some of Perry’s Iowa supporters about the gaffe.  Perry went on Letterman last night to deliver the top 10 list, the campaign’s gambit to embrace the “oops” moment and use it as a pivot point.

Perry swings at Romney, “establishment types” (audio)

After an introduction that suggested his appearance here this afternoon was about policy and not raw politics, Texas Governor Rick Perry instead delivered a combative campaign speech to a group of University of Phoenix students and alumni in Des Moines (and U-of-P folks watching in six other remote sites around the country).

“There’s some in my party who have their own versions of the status quo, if you will and you’ll find out pretty quick I’m not much of a status quo person. The establishment’s not real fond of me and that’s o.k. as a matter of fact, one of my opponents is a 59 point plan and the first part of that is to preserve the current progressive tax system. To me, the way business is done in Washington is not the solution. They’re the problem and this race is really about the mess that Washington is in and it’s about stopping this big spending and stopping the bail-outs.

“….Most folks think we don’t need to tinker and make major changes.  I tell people I think it’s time to quit to looking at it with the tinkering mode, but to fundamentally overhaul the that way Washington works. You know, take entitlement reform — the establishment figures that I know view through the prism of the current beneficiaries and I agree we ought to protect the current beneficiaries of our Social Security program, you know, but who’s going to stand up and say, ‘What about the young American workers? What about those who would like to protect their investment in Social Security and Medicare?

“There’ve been nearly 20 entitlement and spending reform commissions created in Washingon D.C. in the last 30 years and you know why? Because it’s a whole lot easier to name a commission to solve a problem than it is actually to solve the problem. That takes actual leadership.  Some think we can fix Washington with a pair of tweezers, nibbling around the edges, if you will.  I happen to think we need to take a sledge-hammer to it.”

Perry touted his flat tax proposal. He also pledged that as president he would veto any budget bill that contained earmarks.

“I’ll bring my own barrel of ink for my veto pen, thank you very much,” Perry said.  Perry also promised to impose an across-the-board pay freeze for congress and all gov’t employees (except for members of the military & public safety areas) until the federal budget is balanced.

“There is a clear choice, I happen to think in this race, between the status quo tinkerers and those who represent the establishment…and my approach,” Perry said, mentioning his “wrecking ball” approach again. “,,,It’s your country and it’s time for you to take your country back.”

AUDIO: Perry’s opening remarks at this University of Phoenix event.

Perry @ Manufacturers’ forum asked about ethanol

Texas Governor Rick Perry was the first GOP presidential candidate to get their 15 minutes in the spotlight at the National Association of Manufacturers forum in Pella this morning.  Perry began by touting his promise to sign executive orders that would open U.S. energy reserves to exploration.  “Getting Americans to work almost immediately is my goal and I’ve got a pretty good record of that,” he said. 

Perry said he would “pull back all these (govt) regulations since 2008” — that would be the last year of the Bush administration — to save manufacturers and businesses in general “a substantial amount of money” now spent complying with those regulations.

A follow-up question noted Whirlpool had cited consumer demand in its recent job cuts, not regulations.  “People have lost confidence that they can go and risk their capital,” Perry said, accusing the Obama administration of sending a “clear message that they do not believe” in the free market.

“We know that doesn’t work,” he said. “The way you create jobs is by not over-taxing, over-regulating or over-litigating.”

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, one of the moderators of the forum, asked about extending the federal wind power tax credit for four more years, plus retaining the renewable energy standard.  “The federal government needs to be completely out of the energy business, picking winners and losers,” Perry said, mentioning specifically “oil and gas, ethanol.”

Perry said it was “fine” if states want to offer such incentives. “If states want to compete against each other, that is a correct and proper role for the state,” Perry said. “…I do not believe that the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. ought to be picking winners and losers…in any industry.”

Should the federal government provide tax incentives for research & development?

“R&D is one place where I would allow it,” Perry said, before adding criticism of the Solyndra grant. “$535 million to some solar company just because they’ve got a good lobbyist that can get ’em in the White House — that’s nuts,” Perry said.

Anita Perry worries HPV debate will hurt immunization rates (audio)

Texas First Lady Anita Perry is in Iowa, campaigning on her husband’s behalf tonight and tomorrow.  During a late afternoon interview with Radio Iowa, Mrs. Perry said the race is “still not settled” and that “we need to spend a lot more time in Iowa.”

Mrs. Perry is the daughter of a physician and a nurse by training, so I asked Mrs. Perry what her thoughts were as she watched her husband field questions about the HPV vaccine.

“I’m very pro-immunization,” she said. “I did not know about the HPV executive order until after it was already done and it was an opt-out which, perhaps if it had been an opt-in that people would have accepted it a little more, but you know it never passed our legislature. It never became law, but I’m very pro-immunization and this is the one reason why and with this particular virus and along with the hep B,  when someone tells me, a college student tells me that she’s going to school on a conservative college campus and four out of her friends have the virus, then that’s disturbing. Also, we’re seeing a rise in young males and I guess you saw that, you know, the CDC has come out now and they’re recommending it for males, too.

“It wasn’t to promote sexual promiscuity at, in any form. To me, I saw it as a way to prevent cancer and Rick, you know, we — nobody wants cancer. Nobody wants their families to get cancer.  He admitted he made a mistake on the way that it was implemented and, like I said, it never became law.

“…I hope it doesn’t, but it may hurt us on our immunization rates and…hep B is transmitted in the same way, and people don’t know that, but they think it’s o.k. to get the…hep (vaccine), but for some reason — you know, he admitted he made a mistake (about the HPV vaccine), he said he was wrong and it never happened.”

Listen to the AUDIO of Anita Perry’s remarks on the HPV debate.

As for the debate about debates, “there are too many of them and it’s hard to meet people when you’re preparing for the debates,” according to Mrs. Perry.  Her advice to her husband? “Be himself. Be authentic. Just be Rick Perry. He’s genuine and so I just think that needs to show a little bit more.”

Mrs. Perry said there is “an exhaustion factor” and a “scheduling factor” influencing the Perry camp’s decision regarding debate participation.  “It gives an opportunity for infighting within the party. It doesn’t look good for the party,” Anita Perry said. “…Yes, it gives you an opportunity, but you don’t have enough time to spend doing what you need to be doing if you’re always debate prepping…I just think it’s overkill.”

The hiring of new advisors is a “natural transition to a campaign that is growing” according to Mrs. Perry.  “We needed a national level, you know, and these are people that Rick had worked with before and we felt very comfortable with,” she said. “I feel great about ’em. I’m excited they’re there and we know what our job is.”

Perry pokes at Cain on abortion issue (audio)

GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry used a portion of his remarks at tonight’s Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition event to articulate his actions, as Texas governor, on the abortion issue.  But Perry also characterized Cain’s remarks about abortion earlier this week on CNN as “pro-having-your-cake-and-eating-it-too.”

“It is a liberal canard to say I am personally pro-life, but government should stay out of that decision. If that is your view, you are not pro-life,” Perry said of Cain, without directly saying Cain’s name. “You are pro-having-your-cake-and-eating-it-too.”

AUDIO of Perry’s remarks on abortion issue.

Perry began with this declaration:  “As governor of Texas and throughout my career I have taken an unwavering stand in defense of life.”  Just before he launched into Cain, Perry said: “Being pro-life is not a matter of campaign convenience.  It is a core conviction.”

Bachmann finally says “Governor Perry”

Michele Bachmann got a final question from the crowd at her event in Perry, Iowa, about repealing the health care reform law with executive orders.  It was at this point, 55 minutes into the event, that she said the name of her rival.

“With all due respect to Governor Perry, it’s naive to think you can get rid of ObamaCare with an executive order,” she said, adding in a critique of Perry’s assertion yesterday that he would use executive power (rather than seek congressional action) to make changes that would revive the country’s energy sector. “…He’s wrong.”

Perry called into Iowa radio station after PA energy speech (AUDIO)

GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry called into The Sam Clovis Show on KSCJ Radio in Sioux City, Iowa, this morning.

AUDIO 11 min.

Perry delivered a recap of his energy proposal in the first part of the interview. Clovis asked Perry about immigration at about the 7 minute mark.

Perry is due in Iowa this evening to headline a private fundraiser for State Representative Pat Grassley, the grandson of Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley.

Perry: “I have a strong record” on immigration (AUDIO)

Governor Rick Perry

GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry offered up some rhetorical stiff-arms this evening to “pundits” and to those who have criticized his record on immigration.

AUDIO of Perry’s 15 minute speech

“Three months to go before the Iowa Caucuses and, you know, I’m kind of reminded that the pundits don’t choose presidents. The people of Iowa do. That’s a fact. And I’ll tell you, Iowa voters, they’re not looking for the most polished candidate. They’re looking for the most principled candidate,” Perry said during a speech at a Johnson County GOP fundraiser in Tiffin, Iowa.

Perry suggested Iowa voters are looking for a candidate who is “authentic” and “principled” and “somebody who will look ’em in the eye.”

A few minutes later, Perry addressed the immigration issue head-on.  “Some people talk about, well, you need to do X, Y, and Z along the border. Let me tell you, for a decade, I live it every day. I understand exactly what’s going on along that border,” Perry offered up. “…We have a war, literally, in places along that border.” Perry promised to “do the constitutional duty of the United States and secure that border” — a declaration which drew applause.

“…I have a strong record when it comes to dealing with this issue of immigration,” Perry said, mentioning some of the actions he’s taken as governor — deploying Texas Rangers to the border; vetoing a bill that would have given driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. He not mention the controversial policy of granting in-state tuition to students who are illegal immigrants.

He took a few questions from the audience and the event concluded at 7:36 p.m.