Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican candidate for president, brought members of his family and a raft of political allies from around the nation to Carroll on Monday in one of his final campaign stops before today’s Iowa caucuses. Daily Times Herald photo by Douglas Burns
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican candidate for president, brought members of his family and a raft of political allies from around the nation to Carroll on Monday in one of his final campaign stops before today’s Iowa caucuses. Daily Times Herald photo by Douglas Burns
Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, trailed by well-known national media members, selected Carroll as one of his last presidential campaign stops Monday in the hours before the Iowa caucuses.

Speaking in the late afternoon at Santa Maria Winery — the runaway winner as the local political hotspot this caucus season — Perry told more than 150 people that he’s the genuine conservative article, no varnish, no dips, dive or cuts, waffles or flips.

“Why should you settle for anything less than an authentic conservative?” Perry said.

The first other GOP White House candidate Perry mentioned by name in Carroll was former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania who is surging in the polls, and the beneficiary of an apparent late coalescence of social conservatives in the Iowa caucuses. Perry referred to Santorum as “the king of earmarks” and a creature of Washington, D.C., who won’t bring true change to the federal government.

“I love Iowa pork, but I hate Washington pork,” Perry said.

Perry said the collective Republican field aligned against him in the Iowa caucuses has 63 years of experience in Congress.

“I just don’t think they are going to change their stripes and go back to Washington, D.C., and be the president,” Perry said.

Perry, who was elected lieutenant governor of Texas in 1998, became governor in 2000 after George W. Bush left that office for the presidency.

Perry, who was raised on a farm in rural Texas, an hour from Abilene, and 16 miles from the nearest post office, stressed his rural roots, noting that his family didn’t have indoor plumbing in his early childhood.

“We didn’t do a lot of bathing in December,” he said.

In the arena of foreign affairs, Perry blasted U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, for the fellow Lone Star state’s assertion that the United States shouldn’t be as concerned as many suggest about Iran possessing a nuclear weapon.

“It is very dangerous to America,” Perry said.

Perry said he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and referenced an iconic story about him, as governor of Texas, carrying a Ruger  and shooting a coyote while out jogging in South Austin, Texas.

“The Second Amendment comes in pretty handy every now and then when you’re running and a coyote tries to get after your daughter’s dog and you just need to protect your things,” Perry said.

On immigration reform, Perry said securing the border is vital and pledged to use his Texas experience to deploy the resources to do it.

Fielding a question on gay marriage, Perry said he believed in legal unions between one man and one woman.

“I am a traditional-marriage individual,” Perry said.

After the Perry event Carroll barber Randy Nieland, a Republican, said his decision was down to former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

That said, Nieland liked what Perry had to say in Carroll.

“I mean, it’s a consideration,” Nieland said.

At the Natural Look Style Salon on Adams Street in Carroll, support for candidates ranges.

“It’s all over,” Nieland said. “It’s just exactly what Fox News and our local channels are saying. It’s all over. They don’t know.”

Former state Rep. Rod Roberts, R-Carroll, now director of the Iowa Department of inspections and Appeals and still a Carroll resident, attended the Perry event. But like his boss, Gov. Terry Branstad, Roberts is not publicly endorsing a presidential candidate before the Iowa caucuses, although he intends to participate in them tonight at Carroll High School.

Roberts said he sees four candidates making it out of Iowa.

“I think the top four vote-getters definitely go on from here,” Roberts said.

Roberts said Romney will benefit from competing against a cast of conservative candidates who split much of the vote.

“I think he does very well (Tuesday) given how many other candidates are in the field,” Roberts said. “Having said that, Senator Santorum, fortunately in his case, has caught the wave. It was his turn in a sense, and he’s catching it at the right moment, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he actually surprises a lot of people (Tuesday) night.”

Western Iowans need to remember that while Romney might not have strong support in this environment he does in eastern and central Iowa, Roberts said.

“Eastern Iowa is totally different than western Iowa even for Republicans,” Roberts said. “And he’s got a lot of support over in eastern Iowa.”

Former candidate for the Iowa Legislature Don Bernholtz of Carroll, who said Perry delivered a “pretty good talk,” is strongly in the Gingrich camp. He cited Gingrich’s work with President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

“It’s a matter of people working together and somebody that knows how to do that,” Bernholtz said. “An outsider from Washington, it may be nice to think about it, but you have to know Washington to be in Washington.”