LAS VEGAS, NEVADA — Addressing the Western Republican Leadership Conference on Tuesday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry sought to differentiate himself from front-runners Herman Cain and Mitt Romney on policy and style, respectively.
Perry told attendees that he would propose a flat tax in an economic speech in next week in South Carolina, which would differentiate himself from Cain and his “9-9-9” plan, and highlighted how he came to his conservatism “authentically” and not by “convenience,” which can only be interpreted to be a shot at Romney, whose been dogged by questions about his authenticity.
For Perry to win the nomination, he has to discredit Romney’s conservative laurels, present a tax plan that Republicans will like better than Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” plan, and capture the anti-establishment, anti-patrician fervor that is animating this primary cycle.
“I want to make the tax code simple so even Timothy Geithner could file his taxes on time,” Perry said, while also emphatically stating, “I am not a candidate from the establishment.”
The morning after a contentious debate in which he accused Romney of being hypocritical on immigration (Romney has tried to go to the right of Perry on immigration and has repeatedly highlighted Perry’s signing into a law that gave in-state tuition to illegal immigrants in Texas) by accusing Romney of knowing that illegal immigrants were doing work on his house, Perry told attendees that they had an “opportunity to put forward a clear contrast with our president.”
“You won’t hear a lot of shape shifting nuance from me,” Perry said, before adding that he would offer nothing but a “huge big ol’ helping of unbridled truth.”
Perry also said he would barnstorm the country — all fifty states if he had to — to gin up support for a balanced budged amendment and would also call for an end to all earmarks.
Perry said it was “time to bring tough medicine to Washington” and said the country needed to be guided by “Main Street” and not “K Street,” which was a reference to a street in the nation’s capitol where many lobbying organizations are ubiquitous.
In the closing moments of his speech, Perry said the American people are “bruised but they are not broken” and “remain optimistic about our country” and that Washington simply needed to get out of the way.
“Let’s roll,” Perry said, most likely in reference to making Washington inconsequential in the lives of Americans.