Presidential races

Perry: Don’t elect ‘smoothest debater’

After another rocky debate performance, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a candidate for the White House, said in a Friday speech that Republicans should not necessarily back “the smoothest debater” for president.

“As conservatives we know that values and vision matter. It’s not who is the slickest candidate or the smoothest debater that we need to elect. We need to elect the candidate with the best record and the best vision for this country,” he said at a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida. “The current occupant of the White House can sure talk a good game, but he doesn’t deliver.”

{mosads}Perry was criticized by many conservatives for delivering another lackluster debate performance on Thursday night. Much of his speech Friday stressed his beliefs in small government and criticized President Obama, but he also took some shots at his most serious opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“The model for socialized medicine has already been tried and it failed, not just in Western Europe but in Massachusetts … what’s happening in Massachusetts gives us a window into this country’s future,” he said. “If RomneyCare cost Massachusetts 18,000 jobs, just think what it will do to the rest  of this country.”

Florida could be a crucial primary state for Perry and Romney. A Quinnipiac poll released earlier this week showed Perry leading Romney 31 percent to 22 percent among announced candidates.

Watch the full speech here.

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