(CHEROKEE, Iowa) — Squeezed into the back corner of a packed coffee house here, Texas Gov. Rick Perry did not hold back on criticizing some of his Republican opponents, starting with Rep. Ron Paul for his comments on Iran in Thursday night’s debate.
“The idea that there is one individual that was on the stage last night who thinks what’s going on in Iran and allowing Iran to have access to a nuclear device — to have a bomb is really not any of our business,” Perry said. “Dr. Paul is just wrong on this issue.”
“You can’t make nice with the mullahs. They hate us, they hate everything about America. They hate our lifestyle, they hate our faith. They dislike us to the point that they would use a nuclear device first to wipe Israel off the face of the earth and they consider Israel to be the little Satan, they consider us to be the big Satan.”
“This truly makes me nervous when I hear that type of rhetoric out of Dr. Paul. I greatly respect him,” Perry continued. “We cannot have a president of the United States that basically is so hands-off to a country like Iran that they say, ‘It’s not our business, we’re not going to get involved.’ It is our business.”
After his event, Perry was asked by reporters whether Newt Gingrich’s work for Freddie Mac should disqualify him from the presidency after the SEC charged three Freddie Mac and three Fannie Mae executives with securities fraud.
“I think it’s a question that was brought up last night and very strongly so and the idea that somehow or another ‘I’m a consultant, I wasn’t a lobbyist.’ For most of us, that is a very weak excuse at best,” Perry said. “People are sick and tired of being ripped up by congressmen and senators who are in cahoots with Wall Street financiers, and that’s basically what we have here. ‘Fraudulent’ and ‘criminal’ are two words that I hope we hear often as we clean this mess up and people understand that Americans are not going to allow their public servants to rip them off anymore.”
Perry commented on the charges made against the executives saying, “I happen to think … that this is fraudulent and criminal activity, so I hope that what we see is not only this administration but also Congress to take seriously how to put into place oversight that actually works, and that whether it’s the SEC [or] any other investigative body, they go in and they ferret it out, and they get to the bottom of why Americans are having to pay for these huge amounts of bonuses, this bailing out of Wall Street firms.”
On South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s endorsement of Mitt Romney on Friday, Perry extended his respect for Haley and said, “She made her choice, and we’ll see who was right.”
But Perry did make one lighthearted distinction between himself and his Republican opponents. “I’m pretty sure I’m the only person on that stage last night who’s herded cattle.”
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Eric Bradner, Shimon Prokupecz and Dan Merica, CNN
Eric Bradner, CNN
Tom Kludt and Jeremy Diamond, CNN
Jeremy Diamond, CNN