Perry, Paul go at it over health care, Rea­gan let­ter

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

SIMI VAL­LEY, Calif. | The scrap be­tween Gov. Rick Perry and Mitt Rom­ney may have got­ten more at­ten­tion in the Sept. 7 pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates de­bate, but it was tame com­pared to the dust-up be­tween Mr. Perry and Rep. Ron Paul, two Tex­ans who ap­par­ently have spent plenty of time dig­ging up dirt on each other and aren’t afraid to use it.

At one point when the video cam­eras weren’t rolling — though the in­ci­dent was caught by still pho­tog­ra­phers — Mr. Perry walked over Mr. Paul’s lectern, took hold of the con­gress­man’s wrist and wagged his finger at him.

A spokesman for Mr. Perry said it was a pol­icy con­ver­sa­tion, not a heated ex­change.

“The gov­er­nor and the con­gress­man talked about bor­der se­cu­rity. It was a cor­dial con­ver­sa­tion,” said Mark Miner.

The two, though, lost few op­por­tu­ni­ties to fo­cus on one an­other dur­ing the de­bate.

The first shot was in­vited by the de­bate mod­er­a­tors, who asked Mr. Paul to ex­pand on the ac­cu­sa­tions he’d made in re­cent days that Mr. Perry, who has spent more than a decade as gov­er­nor of Texas, is less con­serva- tive than vot­ers think.

“Just take the HPV,” Mr. Paul said, re­fer­ring to Mr. Perry’s scrapped plan to re­quire school­girls in the state to get a vac­cine against the sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted virus. “Forc­ing 12-year-old girls to take an in­oc­u­la­tion to pre­vent this sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis- ease, this is not good medicine, I do not be­lieve. I think it’s so­cial mis­fit.”

Mr. Perry ac­knowl­edged he’d gone about the plan the wrong way when he tried to by­pass the leg­is­la­ture, but said he’d been try­ing to com­bat cer­vi­cal can­cer, which can re­sult from HPV, and said his plan would have al­lowed par­ents to opt out of the in­oc­u­la­tion pro­gram.

Later, af­ter Mr. Perry crit­i­cized the health care law Mr. Rom­ney signed in Mas­sachusetts, Mr. Paul jumped in and said Mr. Perry should worry about his own record, since he had writ­ten “a re­ally fancy let­ter sup­port­ing Hil­larycare” — the health pro­gram former first lady Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton tried to have en­acted in the 1990s.

Mr. Perry fired back, point­ing to a let­ter Mr. Paul wrote in 1987 an­nounc­ing he was drop­ping out of the party he now seeks to lead be­cause he was dis­ap­pointed in then-Pres­i­dent Rea­gan.

“Speak­ing of let­ters, I was more in­ter­ested in the one that you wrote to Ron­ald Rea­gan and said ‘I’m go­ing to quit the party be­cause of the things you be­lieve in,’ “ Mr. Perry said.

He didn’t get any fur­ther be­fore Mr. Paul in­sisted on re­spond­ing.

“I sup­port the mes­sage of Ron­ald Rea­gan. The mes­sage was great. But the con­se­quence — we have to be hon­est with our­selves — it was not all that great,” Mr. Paul said.

The at­tacks kept up even dur­ing the com­mer­cial breaks — and not just on stage. Mr. Paul had paid for an ad dur­ing the MSNBC broad­cast that at­tacked Mr. Perry, point­ing to his sup­port for Al Gore’s pres­i­den­tial bid in the 1980s, in­clud­ing twice call­ing the gov­er­nor a “cheer­leader.”

“Al Gore found a cheer­leader in Texas named Rick Perry,” the ad an­nouncer in­tones.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

You want a piece of me? Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates Rick Perr y, left, and Ron Paul talk dur­ing a break at the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates’ de­bate at the Rea­gan Li­brar y on Sept. 7.

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