AMES, Iowa - Texas Governor Rick Perry was swarmed by voters and the media as he left a wall-to-wall packed coffee house here Sunday, and as he was asked about Mitt Romney's $10,000 wager, Perry suggested it was merely "pocket change" for the former Massachusetts governor.
"I would suggest to you that $10,000 is pocket change for Mitt to make that statement," said Perry in response to a question by New York Times' Jeff Zeleny as he left Café Diem coffee house. "But you'll need to ask him you know. Maybe it was just a misstatement or something."
"Having an extra 10,000 that you would throw down on a bet just seems very out of the ordinary."
Perry doubled down on his criticism of the Massachusetts governor for removing a sentence from his book which Perry believes suggests he viewed the Massachusetts healthcare law as a model for the country.
"I was right on the issue. In his book, "No Apologies," he clearly had a sentence in there that talked about the individual mandates should be a model, could be a model, would be a model, I don't have the wording exactly right, for the nation, and when they reprinted it, they took that out. That's a fact and he can deny it as many times as he wants," Perry said. "That is what he thinks in his heart."
But Perry misquoted Romney in Saturday night's debate when he suggested the former Massachusetts governor wrote his healthcare plan was a "model for the country." Romney's book does not include a line advocating his plan as a healthcare blueprint for the nation, and Politifact gave Perry's claim a "mostly false" rating.
A campaign advisor to Romney told ABC News' David Muir Saturday that Perry didn't accept the challenge because he knew his claim was false.
"I think Mitt Romney has been wronged by this false allegation even though fact-checking organizations have come out and said it is a false attack," Eric Ferhnstrom, campaign advisor for Romney, said. "Rick Perry continues to repeat it and he repeated it again tonight and the reason Mitt Romney offered that bet is because he knew Rick Perry wouldn't take it and by backing down Rick Perry looked weak."
Perry, who was the only candidate other than Rick Santorum to host an event in Iowa just one day after the Republican field descended on the Hawkeye State for a debate, encountered a crowd of more than 100 people, with some standing on seats in their booths to get a peek at the Texas governor.
As the event concluded, protesters shouted at Perry asking, "Why do you hate gay people?"
Here in Iowa, the Perry campaign is airing a television ad titled "Strong" which attacks President Obama's "war on religion" while also criticizing the ability of gay soldiers to serve openly in the military.
"I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a Christian, but you don't need to be in the pew every Sunday to know that there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school," Perry says in the ad, which began airing in the Hawkeye state on Thursday.
The advertisement provoked backlash from voters who support gay rights and even created a rift within his own campaign when one of Perry's top strategists, Tony Fabrizio, called the advertisement "nuts" in an e-mail to other campaign staffers.