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Why some tea partyers are skeptical of Rick Perry

In the latest Rasmussen poll of likely GOP primary voters, 39 percent of tea partyers back Gov. Rick Perry, but some are questioning the candidate's tea party credibility.

By Linda FeldmanStaff writer / August 16, 2011

Texas governor and Republican presidential contender Rick Perry steps off his campaign bus as he visits the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines Monday.

Charles Dharapak/AP

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Washington

When asked to name their top options for president, tea partyers often include Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R).

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He was one of the first major Republicans to embrace the low-tax, small-government movement when it started in early 2009. Now a fully announced candidate, he talks about a President Perry vetoing new spending measures “until the ink runs out” of his pen. He includes himself when discussing the tea party – as in, “we’re not angry, we’re indignant.”

In the latest Rasmussen poll of likely GOP primary voters, 39 percent of tea partyers back Governor Perry. (And overall, Perry leads the Republican field at 29 percent. Ex-Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts is at 18 percent, and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota gets 13 percent.)

But not all tea party leaders are sold. Take Katrina Pierson, a top member of the Dallas Tea Party. She told Reuters recently she thinks the Texas budget is balanced only on paper. And she’s fielding phone calls from tea party activists around the country who want to know if Perry is “for real.”

“With Perry, there are a lot of concerns, including his stance on illegal immigration,” wrote Judson Phillips, head of the social networking site Tea Party Nation, on his website before Perry announced.

Another blogger on Tea Party Nation, Andrew Cochran, asked this question before the Perry announcement: “Which Rick Perry will run for president?”

Will we see the Rick Perry who cherishes and honors the 10th Amendment as the vehicle for protecting states' rights – the one who is willing to honor a state's decisions even when it might interfere with his personal views?”

Mr. Cochran continues, “Or will we see the Rick Perry who continues to brag about Texas-style tort reform, as [if] it's a nationwide solution, even though federal tort reform is clearly a breach of the 10th Amendment and states' rights?

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