DeWITT, Iowa - Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he didn't view the attacks he and his opponents lob at one another as "negative" as long as the statements are true.
"I've run a lot of races before, so as long as no one's misstating the facts, then I don't consider that to be negative. I think it's always in the eye of the beholder, frankly," Perry said to reporters outside his bus Tuesday. "If somebody is saying something that's truthful, even though one person might consider it to be negative, I don't get concerned that that's doing anything other than just expressing the truth of the matter."
Perry has attacked Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul on the stump in the past week and has launched a series of negative television ads directed toward Gingrich and Romney, most recently releasing an ad Monday that classified Gingrich as a K Streeter and Romney as a Wall Streeter.
The Texas governor, who was touring shops and restaurants on Main Street here, used the word "outsider" when asked to provide the sharpest difference between him and rivals Gingrich and Romney.
"They both were for individual mandates at some point in time, and I suggest to you as late as 2010 Mitt was talking about that individual mandates were good, not just for Massachusetts but for the country. He has a real problem with this real issue of being consistent on this Obamacare, Romneycare issue," Perry said. "Newt's an insider, so the issue's going to be, do you want an insider whether its Wall Street or whether it's Washington, or do you want an outsider like myself?"
But while Perry rails against lobbyists at many of his stops, several of the top officials in his office have worked as lobbyists. Perry told reporters that Texas had stringent rules regarding lobbying and government service, and he insisted that the Austin lobbying community was nothing like the one in Washington, D.C.
When asked how he would respond to voters who did not believe he possessed Romney's stability, Perry answered: "Stability in what way? Debater? Are we looking for a debater in chief? I readily admit I will not be the best debater, but I'll be a steady consistent individual when it comes to policies and leading this country."
Perry, who was in the running to receive the endorsement of the conservative Family Leader group Tuesday, said he was not disappointed by the outcome and expected the board would maintain its neutrality.
"I expected them to stay neutral. You've got a number of serious conservatives in the race, both fiscal and social conservatives, Rick Santorum, Michele and myself, so I was not surprised at all that they stayed neutral. I mean, you always want to get good endorsements like that," Perry said.
Perry is traversing Iowa on a 44-stop bus tour, and while he's currently polling fourth in the Hawkeye State, the Texas governor said he still has his eye on that No. 1 spot come January.
"My expectation and my intent is to be No. 1," Perry said.