Perry woos Polk County Republicans


Texas Gov. and presidential candidate Rick Perry speaks to the press at the Polk County Republican Party Summer Picnic on Saturday, Aug. 27, at Jalapeno Pete’s on the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. Perry began his speech praising Iowa for its strong base in agriculture and continued to discuss his presidential intentions. 

Matt Wettengel

GOP presidential candidates Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Thaddeus McCotter spoke to the Polk County Republicans at their annual summer picnic Saturday at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

A crowd of approximately 300 people gathered to listen to the candidates discuss their presidential aspirations and the faults of the Obama Administration.

While Ron Paul was the first to make an appearance before the crowd, about half of which were members of the press, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the current GOP leader in national polls, generated the most buzz once he emerged to the eager audience who swarmed for handshakes and picture taking.

“I love this state, it makes me feel at home,” said Perry.

Perry continued to comment on the generosity, hard-working nature of Iowans before he plunged into the problems the state has seen in recent years, including the loss of 12,100 jobs since Obama took office and the fact that one in eight Iowans are on food stamps.

“That is a testament to the widespread misery created by this administration; that the state known for feeding the world has so many residents now dependent on government just to pay for their food,” Perry said.

“Economic freedom comes from work and wages, not welfare,” Perry said. “Since the time I was old enough to drive [a] tractor I knew that American way was not about empowering government, it was about empowering people.”

Fiscal responsibility was the common theme throughout all three candidates’ presentations, though Paul and Perry were the most heard.

After Perry’s presentation he was followed by a crowd of attendants outside of the Jalapeno Pete’s pavilion where he gave a press conference and then spoke with his followers. This movement of people left Thaddeus McCotter speaking to a significantly smaller crowd.

Though the event is always held to raise money, this year’s profit will be used to help the Polk County Republicans in their cause to win Iowa for the Republican Party, said Kevin McLaughlin, Polk County Republicans chairman.

“If we win Polk County Obama has no hope of winning Iowa and that would be a 16-vote swing in the Electoral College,” McLaughlin said.

Though their turnout was strong, McLaughlin said that they were expecting more people before New York Gov. George Pataki cancelled his scheduled appearance due to family concerns related to Hurricane Irene.