Rick Perry sounded his most populist note yet in a Tuesday morning speech in Bettendorf, Iowa, calling for an end to lifetime judicial appointments, slashing congressional salaries, a part-time Congress, and a law to criminalize insider trading by lawmakers.
"I do not believe Washington needs a new coat of paint, it needs a complete overhaul. We need to uproot, tear down and rebuild Washington, D.C., and our federal institutions," Perry said, invoking the Bible to call for policy prescriptions. "We should apply the wisdom of Solomon to Washington. Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, says, 'There is a time to plant and a time to uproot, there is a time to tear down and a time to build.' "
The Texas governor reiterated a call he first made Monday afternoon to jail members of Congress who participate in insider trading. "Any congressman or senator that uses their insider knowledge to profit in the stock market ought to be sent to jail — period," he said.
Perry, whose poll numbers have cratered following a series of weak debate performances and attacks on his immigration views, has increasingly staked his candidacy on a strong performance in Iowa.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R), who has endorsed Perry, appeared with him at the speech and helped lead the question and answer portion of the event.
Perry called for "a part-time Congress where their pay is cut in half, their office budgets are cut in half, and their time in Washington is cut in half" and promises if that Congress doesn't submit a balanced budget "we should cut their pay in half again." He said that congressional office budgets had doubled in the last decade and needed to be rolled back.
Congress was not Perry's only target. "Too many federal judges rule with impunity from the bench, and those who legislate from the bench should not be entitled to lifetime abuse of their judicial authority," he said, callling for a constitutional amendment to limit judicial appointments to 18 years.
In response to a question from the audience, Perry hit out against cutting government funds from NASA, a stance seemingly at odds with his anti-government rhetoric. Perry said it was "ill-thought out when they decided to make cuts to the space program" because of its ability to be able to create jobs.
When asked about the "personhood amendment" that failed to pass in Mississippi last week, Perry avoided embracing it but touted his anti-abortion rights credentials, calling the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationally "unconstitutional" and for a constitutional amendment to ban abortion nationwide.
"I would support that pro-life amendment in a constitutional way is the way this issue is finally addressed," he said.
This post was updated from an earlier version and last updated at 11:20 a.m.