As the newest member of the 2012 presidential race, Rick Perry took aim Monday at the current occupant of the White House, faulting President Obama for creating barriers to job growth while touting his own record on job creation in Texas.
The Texas governor, who joined the Republican primary race over the weekend, said regulations and overspending by Washington are preventing people from getting back to work.
"If you don't have the resources coming in where the private-sector job creators are creating wealth, then your economy is going to go in the toilet, which is exactly what has happened in America over the last three years with this monstrous debt," Perry said.
"My message is Mr. President, set the people free, set the people free to get back to work, set the people free from these regulations," Perry told Fox News, calling for a "moratorium" on new federal regulations.
Perry says 40 percent of the nation's new jobs have been created in Texas since June 2009. He attributes that record to low taxes, few regulations and predictability that attracts employers to the state.
But Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said Sunday Perry is overstating his role in Texas' success and Obama's stimulus package gets much of the credit.
"It's extremely difficult for him to deserve credit for that job creation when you have rising gas prices that created oil jobs that he had nothing to do with, when you had military spending as a result of two wars that created military jobs that he had nothing to do with, when you have the Recovery Act championed by President Obama that created jobs in Texas that he had nothing to do with," Wasserman Schultz said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
"So it is way overblown to suggest that the job creation in Texas is squarely on the shoulders of his policies," she said.
But back in Iowa, Perry said discipline is key, and he wants to go to Washington to stop the spending and pass a Balanced Budget Amendment. He added that he won't be bashful about using the veto pen.
"I'm not going to Washington, D.C., to be most popular, I'm going to Washington, D.C., to try to save this country from this monumental debt," he said.
Perry, who has earned high marks for his retail politics -- the hand shakes and attentive listening to voters -- offered sparing nuance in describing his potential rivals, including Rep. Michele Bachmann, with whom Perry shared a stage during a Lincoln Day dinner in her hometown, though not at the same time.
"I think she is a ball of fire for one thing, and you know last night ... I've never met her before, so we didn't get the chance to shake hands. She came in after we'd been there for about an hour and a half. But anyway, we'll meet and we'll have a good chance ... and I'll get to know her even better," Perry said.
As for Mitt Romney, the other top-tier Republican candidate Perry is joining in the race, the two records as governor don't match up, he said.
But for those who worry Perry may be a replica of the previous Texas governor to become president, President George W. Bush, Perry said the two aren't carbon copies. Bush went to Yale while Perry went to Texas A&M.
Besides, he said, sharing the same drawl as the former president, it's not where someone's from, but what's in their hearts and minds.
"What's in my mind and what's in my heart is we're going to get America working again," he said.