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Perry dodges press at Iowa City event

BY ALLIE WRIGHT | AUGUST 18, 2011 7:20 AM

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Rick Perry schmoozed with Iowan's during a campaign stop in Iowa City earlier this week, but he didn't address the crowd collectively with policy stances, or take questions from reporters.

Several attempts to contact the Perry campaign for comments were also unsuccessful Wednesday.
And experts are split on how such an information shut-out could affect his campaign.

Tim Hagle, a University of Iowa associate political-science professor, said Iowans like to not only see how candidates deliver speeches but also how they handle themselves in an intimate environment.

"You get that variation, and that's pretty much what Iowans like," Hagle said. "It's that whole retail politics."

The current Texas governor is the latest addition to the 2012 presidential-nomination race, and he has quickly risen to the center of the political universe following his official announcement in South Carolina.

This is Perry's time to introduce himself to voters, said David Redlawsk, an Iowacaucus expert and political-science professor at Rutgers. His announcement allows him the media attention he needs, Redlawsk said.

"[Perry's] happy with the media covering him as the latest and greatest thing," Redlawsk said.
Hagle said focusing on voters may have been used to "smooth the feathers" of those who were frustrated with Perry seemingly overshadowing the Ames Straw Poll last weekend.

Although Perry did not answer questions from the media, he will eventually have to address voter concerns about the issues, Redlawsk said.

But Perry still has a lot to prove to those who do not support him.

Cathy Glasson stood outside after Perry's appearance in order to support what she believes is a good cause: employment.

"Where are all the good jobs?" said the small, white sign the 52-year-old held in her hands.

"We have to get people back to work," said Glasson, who said she has a background in health care as a nurse, though she is not currently practicing.

Jobs and the poor economy will keep Glasson present at future political functions, she said. She is not a supporter of Perry, she said, and she scrutinizes the standards of jobs created in Texas during his time as governor.

While Perry spoke briefly about his stance on several issues, the focus of the event at Hamburg Inn No. 2, 214 S. Linn St., was to create a personal experience with the more than 150 attendees.

Perry made small talk with those in attendance about his first visit to the Hawkeye State in the late-1970s and his family's John Deere farm equipment they used to grow wheat and cotton.

"We'll be back [in Iowa] often," said Perry as he shook hands with a man inside the crowded diner.
With the Iowa caucuses a little less than six months away, Hagle said, a lot couldchange.

As a three-term governor, Hagle said, Perry has executive experience, which appeals to Republicans.

John Twillmann, the head of the UI Republicans, said he believes Perry has a shot to win the Republican nomination and, ultimately, the presidency.

Twillmann, who saw the candidate speak in Waterloo on Sunday, said Perry has become a celebrity, something he said is very important to a presidential campaign.

"[Perry's] a very vibrant, vigorous candidate," Twillman said.


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