NEW HAMPTON, Iowa - In a weekend that has been full of hits on opponents for issues ranging from Iran to earmarks, Texas Gov. Rick Perry continued the criticism of his rivals, this time launching separate attacks on two Republicans leading in the polls: Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.
Perry accused Gingrich of borrowing money from the Social Security trust fund in order to balance the budget when he was speaker of the House.
"Newt talks about balancing budgets and you know what he doesn't mention. I think he says they balanced the budget four times while he was speaker of the House," Perry told about 100 voters at the Chickasaw Event Center here. "Those of you that are wondering what happened to the Social Security trust fund, here's a part of it right here. They took the money out of the social security trust fund so that they could tell you that they were balancing the budget in Washington, D.C."
Perry contrasted himself to Romney, charging the former Massachusetts governor with raising corporate taxes in his state instead of cutting spending during his service.
"I want to make a clear distinction between myself and Governor Romney, and he was the governor of Massachusetts same time I was the governor of Texas," Perry said. "We reduced by $10 billion in spending in Texas, rather than raising taxes, and he took a different path. He scoured his tax code looking for those ways to increase corporate taxes rather than cutting the budget."
Perry said Romney raised taxes by 20 percent in Massachusetts and argued the former governor was doing the work of state Democrats who said he was giving them "air cover."
"He put it on the backs of Massachusetts job creators," Perry said. "Sorry Mitt, but I call that friendly fire. It was our people, the small business men and women, that were taking the hit."
After disclosing his grievances with his two opponents, Perry suggested he possesses the credentials to change the way Washington works.
"Wall Street and Washington's the problem. We've got to have somebody that will walk in there that doesn't give one hoot about any old relationships. Somebody that cares more about Main Street than they did Wall street. Insiders are not going to bring real change. It's going to take a serious outsider who will walk into Washington, D.C., and to really shake up that place and I will suggest to you that I'm that outsider that will do it," Perry said.
With a clear focus on placing high in the Iowa caucuses, Perry's hits on his opponents this weekend only focused on those sitting atop the Iowa polls. He pounced on Ron Paul on Friday for comments on Iran and his penchant for earmarks, but the Texas governor never mentioned the candidates polling below him who are also spending a large portion of their time on the ground in Iowa - Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum.
Perry promoted his idea for a part-time Congress, which has been a consistent applause line for him this week in Iowa, and he railed against agencies imposing what he said were unnecessary regulations on business owners.
"Americans want to get back to work but what they see and what they hear is that the federal government is strangling job growth," Perry said.
Perry's meet and greet, his fourth stop of the day, occurred just as the Denver Broncos-New England Patriots game went on the air, an event the Texas governor was not apt to ignore.
"I'll be quick so you can get back and watch the Broncos and the Patriots. As a matter of fact, I think they're on pretty quick. Go Tebow," Perry said, referring to Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, as he pumped his fist in the air when he started his speech. "Hey listen, I'm biased. I don't mind saying it. He is a great player and a great young man, and I'm for him. I think I said at the debates the other night. I want to be the Tim Tebow of the Iowa caucuses."
Perry's event lasted just over 40 minutes and wrapped up by the end of the first quarter. As he was walking out, Perry gave a thumbs up and said, "Gonna watch Tim."