RICK PERRY’S tough talk wins him fans in California |
Perry’s tough talk wins him fans in California
Posted on September 10, 2011
Gov. Rick Perry, left, waves to members of the media upon his arrival to the Bakersfield Jam Events Center, on Sept. 9, 2011, for a fundraiser breakfast for his presidential campaign – Casey Christie/Bakersfield Californian
By Carla Marinucci and Joe Garofoli
San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writers
SAN FRANCISCO — Texas Gov. Rick Perry attracted new supporters during his first presidential campaign road trip through California with the provocative talk that enrages his opponents, such as his description of Social Security as a Ponzi scheme.
Perry’s blunt language on Social Security is “absolutely part of his appeal,” Floyd Kvamme, a venture capitalist and former adviser to President Ronald Reagan, said Friday outside an East Palo Alto fundraiser. “It’s plain-spokenness. It’s his realism. The fact of the matter is … it’s broken.”
Kvamme echoed the view of many Republicans interviewed during Perry’s three-day visit to California this week. Stops included Wednesday’s GOP debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, six fundraisers – including the one Friday at the Four Seasons Hotel in East Palo Alto – and a handful of public events.
Perry is connecting with a growing number of Republicans because of his uncompromising rhetoric and his back-slapping, guy-who-married “the first girl I dated” persona. The man who has presided over 234 executions as governor signs campaign placards with a small heart above “Rick.”
Supporters love how Perry refused to back down at Wednesday’s debate when confronted with his “Ponzi scheme” description, which he first used in his 2010 book, “Fed Up.” After addressing the East Palo Alto fundraiser, where 150 business leaders paid between $1,000 and $5,000 to be photographed with him, Perry remained steadfast, telling The Chronicle that while people already receiving Social Security shouldn’t worry about their benefits, Americans in their 20s should.
“Why are we trying to kid our kids, and say, keep paying into this thing, it’s going to work out all right for you,” Perry said Friday. “It’s not. It is broken. It’s not going to be there for them. We’re trying to be political gamesmen. Be leaders. Leaders stand up and say we got a broken system, here’s how we fix it.”
Unlike the more tightly scripted GOP candidate Mitt Romney, who has done few retail political events during his California fundraising trips, supporters see in Perry a personable straight-talker, unencumbered by political niceties.
As Romney-backer-turned-Perry supporter John Warner, a retired Orange County surf clothing CEO said, Romney’s “campaign seems too nervous about everything.”
Perry’s approach seems to be working: He’s drawing big crowds and big donations – $500,000 at a single Orange County fundraiser – in California.