Texas Governor Rick Perry is promising voters they will see him a lot in the Granite State. On Day One of a two day visit, he vowed to campaign with fervor, listening to voters and answering their questions about the big issues that face the country. In a state famous for its retail style politics, Perry got off to uneven start.
Virtually every major candidate ends up speaking at a Politics and Eggs Breakfast but few of them ever draw the large crowd that came to the Bedford Village Inn to hear Rick Perry. The Republican presidential candidate has ignited, if not enthusiasm then at least a level of interest that any contender would envy.
The longest serving governor of Texas took the moment to tout his record of rebuilding his state’s economy and he said he could do the same for the nation.
“We need new jobs. We don’t need new agencies. We don’t need a government solution, we need a private sector getting to work and getting the government out of the way. If you want to stimulate the economy, you let small businesses and employers across all economic sectors keep more of what they make.”
Perry highlighted his successful effort to change medical malpractice law, saying it drew tens of thousands of doctors to Texas, providing care in places that had gone without before.
Voters were curious about Perry and pressed him on several issues. One woman asked him if he could explain why the General Electric corporation paid relatively little in taxes. Perry said he could not and while he praised GE, he said tax rates should not be based on political connections in Washington. He called for a national conversation about the tax code.
“What we need to do is go back in and look at our tax code, we need to simplify, lower the impact on people.”
But if Perry opposes tax breaks for some businesses, he thinks government intervention is appropriate for others.
“ There should be incentives out of government for specific things. Whether its energy and trying to get this country more energy independent. I think we need to give incentives to our citizens for their savings. So they can become more thrifty, more personally responsible.”
The challenge of government simultaneously keeping its hands out of the market place and promoting certain lines of business was not lost on Republican leaders in the audience. Former congressional candidate Rich Ashooh said Perry could expect some follow up questions.
“If NH voters are doing their job, they’ll challenge him on that because that is diametrically opposed to how NH does business. NH is a low overhead, low incentive state. Texas is the opposite.”
Other Republicans like former party director Fergus Cullen were more blunt.
“He had very high expectations today and frankly to me, he didn’t meet them.”
“Well, let me welcome everybody here // – fade down”
Later in the morning, Perry toured Resonetics, a medical parts manufacturing firm in Nashua and then sat down with about ten local businessmen. Perry did more listening than talking although he moved the conversation to the need for less regulation and lower taxes.
The impression he made here was stronger than in Bedford. David Heath, a tax accountant, was part of the roundtable and he discerned in Perry the leadership he thinks is essential for the next president.
“He seemed to have that leadership. He doesn’t to be a follow the party line kind of person.”
But Heath also noted, this was a first impression and first impressions don’t always last. If Perry is going to connect with voters, he’ll need more showings like this one.