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Rick Perry in New Hampshire: Evangelical cowboy faces a rough ride

A conservative Christian, Gov. Rick Perry is expected to run strongest in the South. His attempts to make inroads in New Hampshire Thursday showed mixed signs of success.

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Michael Frandzel, also a Portsmouth resident, was also distressed by the comments the governor made about global warming, and he said he was also turned off by the governor’s display of his Christianity. For instance, Perry hosted a national day of prayer in Houston earlier this month.

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“He’s just pushed conservative Christian, Christian, Christian, Christian,” says Mr. Frandzel. “I’m not Christian.”

The crowd at the governor’s lunch stop at Harvey’s Bakery and Coffee Shop in Dover was smaller and lacked the hostility seen in Portsmouth. Perry bought a birthday cake for his daughter at the front counter, then sat down for lunch with Jack Kimball, the New Hampshire GOP chair.

“I’m very impressed with him,” says Marion Bartlett, a retired teacher from Dover, standing outside the dining room. “What I like about him is he’s gutsy.”

“He looks gruff, and he looks like he’s got a mean exterior,” Ms. Bartlett says. But after she saw him in person Thursday morning, she has a different impression. “I like the honesty, and he seems fearless.”

For now, Perry is Bartlett’s top pick, but she’s open to other contenders. Her husband, Ron, a retired engineer, is on the fence but leaning toward Romney. Still, Mr. Bartlett says he’s not bothered by Perry’s Evangelical side or his take on global warming.

Another man standing outside the dining room, Glenn Gagnon, was up from Methuen, Mass., to see the governor. He’s a New Englander who sees southern roots as an indication of a strong work ethic.

“I think we’re lazy up here,” Mr. Gagnon says.

Later in the afternoon, around 2 p.m., Perry made his final stop of the day, a factory tour and speech at Epoch Homes, a modular home manufacturer, in Pembroke. The governor toured the factory, then spoke to about 10 workers and a few members of the public.

His opening comments clearly were not targeted to his audience, but the national press in attendance: He called the Obama administration’s call for Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to step down "long overdue."

The rest of the talk, though, was focused on how government regulations are getting in the way of economic growth.

“We just need to get you all back working again, and more Americans like you working again, free up the country to really make a difference,” Perry said.
He finished: “God bless you, thank you all."

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