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Perry plays offense, defense during 2-day Iowa swing

NBC's Alex Moe

Gov. Perry speaks to supporters in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Friday evening.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA -- Returning to the Hawkeye State for the first time since his debut in the presidential debates, Texas Gov. Rick Perry spent most of his two days here hitting chief rival Mitt Romney -- almost as much as President Obama.

Throughout his total of five stops in Iowa, Perry defended himself against criticisms leveled against him in the past two debates.

“I was the son of tenant farmers and sure wasn’t born with four aces in my hand,” Perry told the crowd of more than 100 supporters here at Tish’s Restaurant last night, where a handful of protesters also gathered outside. The comment was a reference to Romney’s assertion that job growth in Texas was more a product of Perry’s good fortunes than his policies.

Along with defending himself, Perry also went on the offensive against the former Massachusetts governor. He used the term “RomneyCare” and railed against government-mandated health care -- “whether it’s in Massachusetts or Washington, DC.”

“I think it is very important that we put someone as the nominee that doesn't blur the line between Obama and the Republican Party,” Perry said in Jefferson on Thursday night.

Yesterday afternoon, Perry toured Atlanta Coca-Cola Bottling Plant in Atlantic, IA, where he said no one told him the secret recipe for the soda.

“That’s one of the best uses of Iowa corn right there, and fresh Coca Cola right off the line,” Perry said after taking a sip out of Coke. “We had a little private meeting, no one was in there and nobody shared with me the secret recipe of Coke Zero.”

Perry was also questioned by reporters about the Supreme Court’s decision to stay the execution of Duane Buck in Texas. 

“We have a processes of justice in the state of Texas that I have full confidence in. As it goes forward, there are obviously ways to address any concerns,” Perry said in Atlantic. “Whether or not he is guilty is not the question. Whether or not the jury process was tainted will be decided by the Supreme Court and we will respect that.”

Iowa advisers say Perry will spend the remainder of the month focusing on fundraising, but they expect him to return to the first-in-the-nation caucus state in October.