Questions about Perry’s intelligence have circulated through the news media this week – one political website posted a story with the headline, “ Is Rick Perry Dumb? “.
But the Texas governor turned the tables Tuesday, telling conservative radio host Sean Hannity just what he thinks is “dumb.”
“What’s dumb is to oversee an economy that has lost that many millions of jobs,” Perry said of President Barack Obama’s record in the White House, “to put unemployment numbers over his four years will stay probably at 9 percent, to downgrade the credit of this good country, to put fiscal policies in place that were a disaster in the 30's and try them again in the 2000's – that’s what I consider to be the definition of dumb.”
Perry said Obama depends on advisers who tout fancy academic degrees but lack real life experience.
“I think surrounding himself with individuals who have all been academics. They’ve really not anybody on that close team to the president who’s had real life experience of running anything,” Perry said. “They are intellectually very very smart but he does not have wise men and women around him.”
Perry, who entered the race less than a month ago, has already achieved front-runner status in a series of polls. But his swift rise has also come with consequences, namely the intense vetting he is receiving from national press and the opposition research campaign now underway in Democratic and Republican circles. Perry seems to be taking in stride the chatter about his intelligence, even wearing it as a badge of honor.
“It’s kind of the same old attacks that they made on President Reagan, and I guess every prominent effective conservative,” Perry said. “The better we do down here in Texas, my bet is the more they’re going to attack us, and that’s fine. I think my record is gonna stand the scrutiny of time across the country.”
Perry also sought to inoculate himself against the criticism that he used to be a Democrat, saying that he recently spoke with Ronald Reagan’s son, Michael Reagan and told him: “I became a Republican sooner in my life than your dad did.”
Like Perry, Reagan was also a member of the Democratic Party before switching to the GOP. Next week Perry will participate in his first presidential primary debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif.
The Texas governor also defended other elements of his political past, including a 1993 letter he wrote to Hillary Clinton calling her healthcare reform efforts “commendable.” Perry, who was agriculture commissioner of Texas when he wrote the letter, said he was merely trying to voice the interests of rural Americans and never imagined Clinton’s plan would be a precursor for President Obama’s healthcare plan.
“I didn’t want them collectively to overlook a very important constituency,” Perry said. “I had no idea that was going to be the end product. What I thought they were truly going to work towards was trying to reform healthcare, and we had no idea, and then now we’ve got ‘Obamacare’ .”
Perry continued to shoot down the notion that he does not get along with the Bush family, saying “there is absolutely no rift at all” between him and the iconic Texas political family. But, it was a different story when it comes to Perry’s main rival for the GOP nomination, Mitt Romney, who campaigned in Texas on Tuesday complaining about the influence of “career politicians” (a veiled jab at Perry).
“I don’t know Governor Romney well enough on a personal basis,” Perry said. ”We were both governors for a period of time. He was just four years in Massachusetts, but look this race is not going to be about personalities from my perspective and it’s certainly not going to be personal. It’s going to be about records and who can get America working again.”