By Arlette Saenz
Texas Gov. Rick Perry aimed his attacks at President Obama's energy and jobs policies Wednesday by criticizing the president's speech in Pittsburgh Tuesday and by painting his own forthcoming energy and jobs plan as a direct contrast to the president's.
"This president would rather listen to an environmental activist than he would the pleas and the cries of the people without a job," Perry said at the Indiana Republican Party's Presidential Forum in Indianapolis.
"The question is whether the president's going to listen to his advisers on jobs or competiveness or is he going to listen to the activists that are pushing an agenda that pits environment against the economy," Perry added. "That's what the question is. I'm going to be in Pittsburgh Friday and I'm going to announce my own energy jobs plan, and I can promise you this: I'm going to take the side of workers and employers in America. That's who I'm going to be standing with."
Perry is set to deliver his first major policy speech Friday at a steel plant in West Mifflin, Pa., where he will detail his energy and jobs plan, which he claims will put 1.2 million Americans to work in the energy sector. Perry did not share any specific proposals today that he'll outline on Friday, but he stressed the need to open access to the country's natural resources.
"The next economic boom is right under our feet. Our own oil resources alone are vast enough to meet the next 300 years of energy demand at today's levels," Perry said. "We have the answer, my friends. It's right below our own feet. And what has been this administration's response to our energy potential? They've thrown every bureaucratic obstacle possible in order to advance an activist agenda."
Perry criticized the administration's "bureaucratic overkill" and argued that new EPA regulations will lead to the loss of 1.6 million jobs by 2020.
"The choice this election is whether we're going to keep a president who has failed to create jobs and who is pro-bailout, pro-government-mandated health care, pro-cap and trade, or whether we're going to change the course and elect a president who will give consumers greater freedom, who will protect us from job-killing carbon schemes and who will support policies that are good for Main Street and not just Wall Street," Perry said.
The Texas governor also addressed the thwarted Iranian terror plot to murder a Saudi Arabian diplomat in the U.S., saying it reflects a continual trend for the Iranian government.
"Iran again has demonstrated how its engagement in the world community consists of plotting violence and terror against its neighbors and its critics. Unfortunately, this is all too often business as usual for Iran," Perry said. "They sow the seeds of mayhem and instability in the Middle East. Iran is the great destabilizing effect in the Middle East, and our nation and our allies cannot allow Iran to develop or secure nuclear weapons."
Perry used the Iranian terror plot as an opportunity to highlight the security risks facing the United States, particularly focusing on the federal government's weak efforts in strengthening border security. But he did not address and was not asked about his support for the controversial in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, an issue that has plagued him at other campaign stops.
Perry's speech in Indianapolis marked his first trip to the Hoosier state this campaign season, and he had kind words for Indiana's Republican governor, telling the crowd "You've got one smart governor in Mitch Daniels."
Though Daniels won re-election in 2008, Indiana turned Democratic in the presidential race for the first time in four decades as President Obama won the state over Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., by slightly more than one percent.
Perry continued to tout Indiana's efforts to foster competitiveness between states and tried to use a sports analogy to further explain the nature of competition, though the team he chose to identify doesn't boast quite the record to which he was alluding.
"My bet is that the Colts don't mind at all beating everybody on their schedule. That's just my bet because competition is what makes you better," Perry said, as the crowd half-way chuckled, perhaps in light of the Indianapolis Colts' 0-5 start this year.
But Perry did get one Indiana reference correct when he compared his school in Paint Creek, Texas, to the fictional high school in the popular Indiana movie "Hoosiers."
"It was even smaller than that movie, "Hoosiers,' and if I had Jimmy Chitwood's jump shot, I probably wouldn't be resorting to this life that I've chosen now. So study," he told the crowd.
Perry shared his small rural school's motto that he's carried with him throughout his life, a motto he compared to the hope of the American people.
"Growing up on that cotton farm and attending that small country school," he said, "I learned the lessons of hard work and I lived by the motto of that little school I grew up in: "No dream too tall for a school so small.'
"As I talk to Americans throughout this campaign, I find that despite their many concerns that very few people in this country have stopped dreaming big dreams," he added. "The American people may be down, but they're sure not out, and they're sure not soft as our president would make us believe."