AIKEN — Despite finishing near the bottom with Iowa and New Hampshire voters this month, Texas Gov. Rick Perry walked through downtown Aiken on Wednesday and assured supporters of a presidential victory.
His first course of action, after taking his hand off the Bible at inauguration, is to walk into the Oval Office and “wipe out as much of Obamacare as I can on that day” with an executive order.
Perry said that as commander in chief, he also intends to pass a balanced budget and create a constitutional amendment cutting the pay for members of Congress and reducing their roles to part-time positions.
“I want you to pick me because I love this country,” he said. “Have my back, and I’ll have your back.”
Speaking to about 150 people in Aiken’s municipal building after visiting four downtown businesses, Perry pleaded with the city to vote for him in South Carolina’s upcoming primary Jan. 21. He made no indication of quitting his campaign for the White House, insisting that voters in the South would act differently than pollgoers thus far.
Perry walked through downtown in black cowboy boots and a monogrammed belt buckle over his grey slacks. He patted dogs, posed for photos with supporters and said “Howdy” to those who watched on the sidewalks as he passed.
At each stop along his walk, there were dozens of people waiting to meet the governor, some out of curiosity and some to see whether he could sway their vote.
“We mainly came out to hear what he has to say because we really haven’t made up our minds yet,” said Dr. Allen Kirchner, of Aiken.
Christopher Garris brought his 10-year-old daughter, Nikaya, to meet Perry outside the Gun Rack, hoping the visit would spark an interest in politics
that would persuade her
to get involved as she grew up.
“I wanted to expose my daughter to the political process at a young age,” Garris said.
As Perry left the Gun Rack to begin his walk through downtown, he spotted Nikaya and extended his hand.
“You’re a beautiful lady,” he said. “Thanks for coming out.”
After the Gun Rack, Perry stopped in Ryan’s Market and Deli, True Value hardware store, Lionel Smith Ltd. and Equine Divine.
As he walked the streets, he kept the conversation away from politics and chatted with supporters about football; Texas A&M University, his alma mater; and how he thought Aiken was “a pretty little town.”
Once he arrived at the municipal building, he was strictly business.
“The folks that I’m running against are either Washington insiders or Wall Street insiders,” Perry said.“It’s going to take an outsider that is not corrupted by the process that has gone on for as long as it’s gone on.”
Perry attacked President Obama several times, criticizing his health care law and lack of stimulation for the economy.
Perry said that as president, he would implement a 20 percent flat tax, open water and land for oil drilling, and make it so the federal government could not tell states how to “educate their kids” or invest in health care.
He told the crowd about his Southern upbringing on a Texas farm, his service in the Air Force and interest in politics from a young age.
After the town hall meeting, Tina Bevington, of Graniteville, said she was not necessarily convinced, but she appreciated getting a chance to see a candidate up close.
“It makes a big difference actually shaking hands with us little people,” Bevington said.
“As for who I’ll vote for, I won’t know until I walk into the polling booth.”