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Perry defends style, labels health care 'a huge problem' for Romney

Dubbing the city to which he hopes to move if elected president a "seedy place," Gov. Rick Perry hit back Thursday at Republican critics who say he brings a hotheaded "Wild West" attitude to the presidential field.

"I speak plainly. I call it like I see it," the Texas governor said on the Laura Ingraham radio show. "I am not an establishment figure. Never have been, and frankly I don't want to be. I dislike Washington. I think it's a seedy place."

"Frankly, our country is in trouble," Perry continued. "And I don't have the privilege of sitting on the sidelines and watching our country be destroyed economically by a president who has been conducting an experiment on the American economy for the last two and a half years."

The third-term Texas pol also addressed his relationship with his Texas predecessor, George W. Bush, saying that he has "great respect" for the Bush family but that there are important distinctions between himself and the 43rd president of the United States.

"I'm not George Bush. I don't try to be," he said, quickly adding, "I respect him, I consider him a friend."

During the interview, Perry also repeated a previous slap at rival Mitt Romney's record on health care, calling the 2006 Massachusetts law that Romney supported "a huge problem" for the former governor.

"I think Mitt is finally recognizing that the Massachusetts healthcare plan he passed is a huge problem for him," Perry said, going on to note that the Bay State legislation served as a model for Obama's health care legislation -- which he called "an absolute debacle."