Monday, September 5, 2011
Live-Blogging the Rick Perry Townhall in South Carolina (UPDATED)
If you want to follow along, I'm watching from here, although there are some other streams, too.
9:10: The event opens with a somewhat lengthy prayer.
9:15: Perry begins with his traditional introduction...Paint Creek, farmer, etc. I like his easy, relaxed manner and his humor. He explains that one of the things he did as governor was to have Paint Creek added to the Texas road map. Is it on there? Anyone have a road map of Texas?
9:25: He plugs his book, Fed Up! while continuing with his biographical info. "Public service is an honorable thing, whether it's wearing the uniform of our country or in public office....". He says, "I've lived the American Dream" from Paint Creek, Texas to serving as governor He opens to questions now.
First question: "As president how would you deal with regulations by the EPA, the NLRB...."
Perry says the regulatory burden created in Washington DC is too costly; he references the EPA coming into Texas to clean up the air pollution even though Texas has taken their own measures to do so. Perry says the EPA's attempt to run the clean air program would destroy jobs in Texas.
"We've done a good job lowering emissions and created more jobs." He says when the EPA first contacted them about coming "to visit" about their air permitting standards in Texas, he thought they were coming to give them an award, not cripple their program. Perry promises to put in place "pro-business administrators" in the EPA and the NLRB.
Next question: "What will your policy be toward Israel?"
Perry: "Our friends...will never have to ask where the United States will be under a Perry presidency." He says Obama has "thrown Israel under the bus" and his going back to the original borders is"unconscionable."
Next question is about bringing back American dollars from overseas because of double taxation. "Lower that rate substantially," Perry says. "Zero is a pretty good rate. That money is going to come back and create jobs."
9:40: Perry stands by his Ponzi scheme comment on Social Security but reassures seniors and those approaching retirement that their Social Security is safe. He's advocating reform. "If you're on SS today, or if you're approaching SS, you do not have to worry about those dollars."
On immigration: "The real issue here....you can't have a conversation about immigration reform until you first secure the border. It's a waste of time." Applause. "If you have a revolving door at the border...immigration reform means nothing."
He explains that they've been dealing with this in Texas for a long time. He has experience with this. Perry says they've requested predator drones. He likes strategic fencing. "I don't believe in building a wall from Brownsville to El Paso. It wouldn't be built in our childrens lifetime." He explains that there are miles of border in open terrain that need "boots on the ground." It would take 4,500 additional border control agents from Brownsville to Tijuana. While were waiting for those troops, he says, "I would have our National Guard on the border doing border security at this point in time. That is how you secure the border." Applause.
He didn't address the Texas version of the DREAM Act (the tuition issue), which I want to hear.
The next question deals with the Fair Tax. Perry likes it.
9:45: Perry talks about veteran issues. He cites his own service as a reference for understanding veterans issues as well as his position in Texas. He says, "I feel pretty qualified to talk about what we need to be doing taking care of our veterans. I'm a Vietnam era vet." He cites our country's lack of support for those vets. "The great news is that our country has really matured" over the past 40 or so years and understand better now about military service. "We've been at war for 10 years. I bet every one of you has been impacted." There are a lot of things our VA can't do, he says. We need to be sure we're doing everything we can to take care of our vets and take better care of them. He doesn't believe we're doing enough right now.
Next question: "How strongly do you support a federal balanced budget or a balanced budget amendment?"
Perry is very relaxed on the stage; he looks like he's really enjoying this.
9:50: Perry says we need to go into the EPA and lower regulations. "Stop" is actually the word he used. He's talking about the energy industry and the jobs they can create. He's jabbing Obama for stopping drilling in the Gulf and then telling Brazil, "We want to be your best customer."
The Dodd-Frank bill should be repealed, he says.
Free up Wall Street to Main Street from over regulation to get the economy working again.
Perry says Obama needs to say on Thursday, "We're gonna repeal Obamacare. We're gonna repeal Dodd-Frank" and lower regulations. Huge applause.
Recovery would happen "in a hurry" he says. "People want to be freed up from over taxation, over regulation and over litigation." He says, "We'll create jobs like you've never seen!"
We need to be able to "tell Mr. Chavez, 'we don't NEED your oil! We're producin' it on our own!'" Huge applause.
Perry says on Day One he will sign an executive order to wipe out as much of Obamacare as he can.
9:55: On education, he says education does not "in any way" need to be mandated or directed from Washington D.C.
"I'm about freedom," Perry says.
(Thanks Mike, for the typo correction! I need a proofreader!)
Next question: "Are you for gun control?" Seriously? Why is he even asking this question? Well, he's reading them from a bowl. Perry: "I'm actually FOR gun control. Use both hands." Ha!
10:00: Next question: "Will you be able to raise enough money for this race?" Perry professes love for his current job and says he didn't really want to run initially, but that he wife sat him down and said, "Our country is in trouble and you do not have the privilege to sit on the sideline. You've got to do your duty." He says, "We're gonna raise whatever we've gotta raise to be competitive....Do we need to raise as much money as he and George Soros can put together? I don't know...".
The next question is about energy. "Would you increase the production of U.S. oil?" These are awfully easy questions. This one comes from Facebook.
Perry says he's an "all of the above" person with regard to energy. We have lots of oil reserves and natural gas. Again cites over-regulation. He says hydro-fracturing is a technique we need to put into place and protect; there's not evidence that it's damaging, he says.
He's for nuclear plants. "I'm for removing all these subsidies...if we will remove the burden of regulation...they won't need any subsidies."
Perry goes off-track a minute and says he's going straight back to Texas and canceling his other SC events today because Texas is on fire. Good man. Doing his job.
"Pray for rain," he said.
Next question: Stem cell research. Pro-choice or pro-life. Perry: "I'm a huge adult stem cell proponent." Cites his own experience with it. On embryonic stem cells - "there is not one fetus that needs to be destroyed for that science to go forward."
"I'm the most pro-life governor in the United States." He cites his record in Texas on that.
Last question & Wrap: Next question is about term limits. "I am not a fan of term limits." Why would you limit a man that's doing his job? he asks. People should vote out people that aren't doing their job. "YOU are term limits," he says. "We have to be engaged as people." More important, he says, is a balanced budget amendment..
Next question is about keeping soldiers in Iraq or not. Perry says he wants to bring them home as soon as he can but doesn't want to signal to our enemies when that is going to happen. He says Obama's telling the enemy when our draw down will be "was absolutely devastating" to morale and to the cause. Applause.
Two more questions, now from the audience, not the magic bowl.
He's talking about reflecting his Christian faith from the White House: "Not only will I be proud to sign a document for the National Day of Prayer, I'll actually BE there."
Anita says, via Perry, "On Sunday morning you won't see my husband playing golf; he'll be at church."
A man asks how to stop the Bernanke policies: We do not need a Federal Reserve making monetary policy to cover up bad fiscal policy by an administration, Perry says. A social security recipient is concerned about rising costs and Social Security fixed income. "It all goes back to don't spend all the money," Perry says. Lower the energy costs by lowering regulation.
Perry has taken over the mike now and calling on audience members.
An 84 year old disabled vet stands. He says, "Clearly you are a different kind of Texan., We had Johnson and two Bushes. We don't need them. We need YOU!" Huge applause. Love it!
Tim Scott calls for the wrap up. Perry says, "I love this country. I think our best days are ahead of us... They'll only occur if we are willing to do over the next 14 months what's gonna be required. It's gonna be a hard slog. It's worth sacrificing for." He asks for their support. He thanks the audience and blesses them. Huge applause.
And he's off to Texas to fight fires.
Overall, I thought the questions were soft. I didn't hear the question about the in-state tuition I wanted to hear. Perry might have a justification for signing that bill but I'd like to hear it. What I liked? I think he's honest. He's open. He believes. He has a plan. He was relaxed and easy on stage with easy ad-libs and even jabbing once at the New York Times; what that all indicates to me is that he's speaking from his heart and his core.
I'm ready for the Wednesday debate!
Update: Politico's take on the event.