Under indictment, Perry keeps focus on job, electing Republicans

By James Q. Lynch, The Gazette

HIAWATHA — Texas Gov. Rick Perry isn’t going to let a felony indictment or two get in the way of campaigning for Iowa Republicans or, apparently, the 2016 Republican nomination for president.

Perry told Linn County GOP activists Tuesday the indictments alleging abuse of power will not distract him from his job or campaign appearances on behalf of Iowa Republicans. Then he quickly changed the subject to the importance of electing Republicans U.S. House 1st District Republican Rod Blum and GOP Senate candidate Joni Ernst “who could be the difference between Harry Reid being majority leader and minority leader.”

Defending his actions, Perry told activists at the GOP Victory Office in Hiawatha that “Standing up for the rule of law is the right place to be whether it is defending the border of the United states from Mexico or standing up for a governor to veto a line item in the budget.”

Earlier Tuesday, at a Cedar Rapids new conference, U.S. House 1st District Democratic candidate state Rep. Pat Murphy called it “scandalous” that Blum invited Perry to campaign with him “not just because he is facing (allegations) of abusing his power,” but because the joint appearance confirms that Blum would try to “privatize Social Security, cut benefits and put the retirement of Iowans on Wall Street, jeopardizing them.”

Blum was not concerned by the indictments.

“I’m proud to stand next to the governor,” he said. “As a business person we are accustomed to frivolous lawsuits.”

Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Monica Vernon sought to link Perry’s legal situation to Republican Gov. Terry Branstad’s “scandal-plagued, mismanaged administration.”

The example Perry has set for Blum and Branstad “is one of abuse of power, corruption at the highest levels and failure to be accountable,” Vernon said.

Branstad dismissed her charges.

“A lot of people, including some pretty prominent Democrats, have said that they think this is inappropriate and it looks like a very political thing that’s being done because of the fact that he’s exploring the possibility of running for president,” Branstad said at his weekly Statehouse news conference. “Even Democrats like (David) Axelrod have said this is very questionable.”

GOP activists at the Perry-Blum event shared Branstad’s view.

“The indictment is a joke,” Steve West Sr. of Hiawatha said. “It’s a vendetta by Democrats.”

Former Johnson County Republican Party Chairman Bob Anderson called the indictments “more than a stretch.”

Texas Democrats “are using the legal process for political ends,” he said.

Perry and Blum conducted a health care round-table at St. Luke’s Hospital, but it was not open to the public.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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