Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry criticizes House Minority Leader Boehner, embraces tea party

By Jay Root, AP
Friday, September 17, 2010

Texas Gov. Perry criticizes GOP leader Boehner

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has positioned himself as a national figure on firebrand conservative causes, has criticized U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner for seeking a possible compromise on tax cuts with President Barack Obama.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Perry also embraced the two newly elected Republicans backed by the tea party movement in Delaware and New York — candidates that many establishment Republicans have shunned.

Perry has made Washington a whipping post in his campaign for an unprecedented third term, and he hasn’t always limited his ire to Democrats. The longest serving governor in Texas history has often been mentioned as a 2012 presidential or vice-presidential contender even though he insists he’s not interested.

While Perry is in a competitive re-election campaign against Democrat Bill White, he continues to speak out on national issues.

In an interview from his campaign plane this week, Perry waded into the controversy over extending tax cuts, the growing influence of the anti-tax tea party movement, and the recent primary victories by anti-establishment conservatives in the northeast.

Perry said he didn’t agree with Boehner’s comments last weekend that he could accept only a partial extension of the Bush-era tax cuts. He suggested Boehner, who since backtracked, had prematurely surrendered on tax reductions.

“I’m not generally the kind of guy that waves the white flag before I ever go out on the field of battle,” Perry said. “I would not have said we’re going to be making any compromises before I’d sat down and talked to the team.”

The comments come as debate over the tax reductions heats up in Washington. A growing number of Democrats also are joining the GOP call for the preservation of tax breaks for Americans of every income level, bolting this election season from Obama’s plan to keep cuts for families who earn less than $250,000 and let taxes rise for the wealthiest Americans.

Boehner, who over the weekend had suggested he would vote for Obama’s plan if that were the only option offered him, has since stuck to the party’s message of keeping all the tax cuts.

Perry also rushed to embrace two conservatives whose shocker primary victories this week sparked something of a Republican family feud. In Delaware, Christine O’Donnell rode voter anger to overcome her better known challenger, U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, fueling concern that Democrats will easily beat her in November.

In New York, the victory by multimillionaire Carl Paladino, a tea party darling with a history of making outrageous statements, also left the GOP establishment divided.

Perry said he didn’t understand all the hand-wringing.

“Just because your person doesn’t win, if you’re pretty much on the same team, I don’t agree with guys or gals who are Republicans, who are fiscal conservatives, (saying) ’she wasn’t our first pick so we’re not going to be for her’,” Perry said. “Well, I mean the people chose her. I’m for her. She’s on our team.”

Perry channeled tea party anger and became an early promoter of the movement. Despite his long tenure, he positioned himself as the outsider against U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the March GOP primary. On Thursday night, on a flight from Paris, Texas, to Austin, Perry said he fully embraces the tea party label now, too, in his race against White, the former mayor of Houston.

“Oh yeah, I totally support the concept of the tea party,” Perry said. “They’re fiscal conservative and basically small government advocates and I can’t find much wrong with that.”

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