Many in the political arena are certain that this race through the presidential primary is going to come down between two candidates in the end…Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. Thus, it’s no surprise that the two are already beginning to duke it out. Via Politico:
DES MOINES – Rick Perry, on his first day of extended Iowa campaigning, foreshadowed his coming assault Monday against Mitt Romney and swiped back at the former Massachusetts governor and venture capitalist’s suggestion that others in the GOP race don’t understand the economy.
In back-to-back answers, Perry nodded at the difference between his economic record as Texas governor and Romney’s in Massachusetts and then drew a cultural contrast between his background as an Air Force pilot and family farmer and his opponent’s high finance pedigree.
“It’s being able to work with your legislature to get the right tax and regulatory and legal system in place — and we done that in Texas,” Perry said of how he created jobs in his decade-long tenure as governor.
Asked if Romney had done the same, Perry responded: “You just have to look at the record.”
Talking to reporters as he made his way through the state fair here, the Texas governor was even more direct when asked about private business experience — something Romney said sets him apart from the Republican field.
“I was in the private sector for thirteen years after I left the Air Force,” he said. “You know, I wasn’t on Wall Street, I wasn’t working at Bain Capital, but the principles of the free market — they work whether you’re in a farm field in Iowa or whether you’re on Wall Street.”
Hours earlier, Romney, on the trail in Litchfield, N.H., had taken a not-so-subtle jab at Perry.
“Understanding how the economy works by having worked in the real economy is finally essential in the White House,” Romney said, adding: “I respect the other people in this race, but I think the only other person who has that kind of extensive private sector experience besides me in the Republican race is Herman Cain.”
Told of Romney’s boast about knowing of the “real economy,” Perry shot back: “I’m thinking Texas is the real economy.”
Subsequently asked the same question, Perry blew Romney a kiss for the cameras.
“Give him my love, give him my love,” he joked.
The long-distance valentines, phony as they may be, won’t last long.
The back-and-forth illustrates just how rapidly the GOP race has been transformed in three days from a sleepy summer affair full of unanswered questions to an increasingly competitive and clearly-defined contest. The combination of Perry’s entry, Tim Pawlenty’s exit and Michele Bachmann’s Ames straw poll victory has for the first time prompted Romney to shift his attention away from Barack Obama and onto the primary, setting the scene for a heated three-way battle this fall.