PORTSMOUTH, N.H. - Far from a leisurely grip-and-grin at a downtown cafe, Governor Rick Perry of Texas encountered a wall of protesters and faced sharp questions in a morning campaign stop in Portsmouth yesterday, his second day in New Hampshire.
Hecklers carrying signs shouted from the sidewalk, “Stop attacking middle-class families, Rick Perry,’’ as the smiling new presidential candidate shook hands and signed autographs. Perry, who declared his candidacy on Saturday, was much more warmly received at visits yesterday to Dover and Pembroke.
For every admirer in Portsmouth who commended his work, there were several detractors armed with questions about climate change, Social Security, or human evolution.
“How old do you think the Earth is?’’ asked a little boy as his mother egged him on.
“You know what, I don’t have any idea,’’ Perry responded, hunched at eye-level. “I know it’s pretty old. It goes back a long, long way. I’m not sure anybody actually knows completely and absolutely.’’
He added that evolution is “a theory that’s out there, and it’s got some gaps in it.’’
“Ask him why he doesn’t believe in science,’’ the mother prompted.
The New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans organized at least part of the protest, according to the Associated Press.
For his part, Perry shied from conversations about his scientific views and focused on jobs and the economy, blasting the Obama administration for too much regulation and taxation. Those ideas resonated with many who came to see him at a diner in Dover.
“We need government out of the way because the private sector is the solution,’’ he told a crowd at Epoch Homes’ modular home factory in Pembroke.
William O’Brien, the Republican House speaker in New Hampshire, said Perry’s recent controversial statements - doubting the existence of global warming and warning that any action to bolster the money supply by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke would be treasonous - will not be sticking points for the state’s GOP voters.
“I think we still have a concern in New Hampshire about jobs,’’ O’Brien said after Perry’s question-and-answer session in Pembroke. “We have a concern in New Hampshire about our young people leaving the state.’’
Democrats accepting PAC funds, data suggest WASHINGTON - President Obama has sworn off special-interest money to pay for his reelection bid. But it turns out those dollars are fair game for congressional Democrats - to the tune of millions.
An Associated Press analysis of campaign fund-raising found that Democrats who are trying to regain control of the House next fall have raked in more than $15 million from political action committees this year, raising money from special interests even as Obama promotes his ban on such funds.
More than $1 million of that money flowed to the reelection committees of House minority leader Nancy Pelosi of California, minority whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, and the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida.
Democratic leaders gloss over all that when they pressure the GOP presidential candidates to disclose their top donors, and even go so far as to trumpet the fact that Obama’s campaign and the DNC do not take money from registered federal lobbyists and political action committees.
Yet the checks still flowed to congressional Democrats, at roughly the same pace as they did in the last election cycle two years ago. And dozens of House Democrats even raised more interest-group money than they did during first six months in 2009, the most recent comparable period, when adjusted for inflation.
“Democrats have broadly supported campaign finance reform and disclosure for outside groups, while Republicans continue to oppose them,’’ DNC spokesman Alec Gerlach said. “The DNC has refused PAC and lobbyist money since President Obama was elected, and Wasserman Schultz has refused it as well since she was elected DNC chair’’ in May.
It is a bipartisan money game, with top Republicans also cashing checks from special interests in 2011. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio has pulled in more than $500,000 from PACs since Jan. 1, as has his deputy, majority leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.
But Democrats have been on the offensive across the country, criticizing streams of cash flowing into federal elections following the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that lifted a ban on corporate donations in political campaigns.
Huntsman turns to Twitter to blast Perry’s views SALT LAKE CITY - Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman is turning to Twitter to level criticism against a rival, Governor Rick Perry of Texas, and his positions on evolution and climate change.
Huntsman said in a tweet yesterday that he trusts scientists on global warming and believes in evolution: “Call me crazy.’’
The former Utah governor’s tweet came after Perry said earlier this week that climate change is unproven. Huntsman has since gained more than 3,000 Twitter followers.