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GOP primary: Voters willing to overlook Perry's early miscues

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

The crowd Texas Gov. Rick Perry attracted during a stop at the VFW post in Murrells Inlet this week was smaller and quieter than one at a similar event for Newt Gingrich two days earlier in Georgetown.

But Perry’s supporters were no less enthusiastic, listening attentively, then swarming around him when he left the stage for autographs and pictures, or just to shake his hand.

It was his second stop in the county. He was in Georgetown, greeting people on Front Street, on Saturday.

“I think he’s brilliant. He had one stupid fumble and the media will not forgive it, but he’s just wonderful,” said Pat Pease of Murrells Inlet.

She has been a Perry supporter since he first announced his bid for the presidency, and spoke passionately about the merits of Perry and his wife.

Marsha Coulson of Murrells Inlet was also a Perry fan from the start. She remembers contacting all her children, who live in New Jersey, and telling them that Perry was the one to watch.

“He kind of floundered at the beginning and I kind of withdrew, but as he’s gone through different debates and I’ve heard him speak, he’s coming back into his own,” Coulson said.

She also considered Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

“I think Newt Gingrich is smart, but I don’t like his negative campaigning,” she said.

Coulson is hopeful Perry will do well in the primary, but even if he doesn’t walk away the nominee, she predicts it won’t be the end. “Even if he doesn’t win this year, I think that in the future, people will know his name and know where he stands and like all the things he stands for.

Perry’s speech in Murrells Inlet was generally positive and, not surprisingly, centered on national defense and veterans issues. He recalled going to the local VFW and American Legion posts with his father as a child and talking about “the fact that our country is strong because we have a strong military.”

He has challenged other states to follow his state’s lead in putting programs in place to protect veterans returning home, making sure they have jobs to come back to, he said.

He also proposes a Wounded Warrior tax exemption that would apply to all personal income tax for five years.

“That’s sending a message that will last longer than a parade; than a commendation,” Perry said. “It’s the least our country can do.”

Patty Kispert of Garden City said she has been studying all the candidates and came to the VFW just for more information, but after hearing Perry, he has her vote.

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