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Perry blasts Gingrich, Romney; calls TARP 'single greatest act of thievery in American history'


ELKADER, Iowa -- He's still punching up. And today, it's TARP.

Gov. Rick Perry started the sixth day of his 44-stop trip as he typically does: by unloading a new line of attack aimed at those well-positioned in the polls to win the Iowa caucuses.

"The Wall Street bailout was the single greatest act of thievery in American history," Perry told a crowd of about 50 in Elkader. "And Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney were for it. That's what insiders do."

The accusation is a new addition to Perry's typical populist pitch, which ties "Wall Street financiers" and "Washington insiders" together as profiteers of the financial crisis who deliberately gamed the system and "bet against" the nation's middle class.

"On Wall Street some people got rich. I mean literally insanely rich. And they were betting against millions of homeowners with these subprime mortgages," he said Monday.

The attack is yet another example of Perry's attempts to chip away at the support of the three men currently jockeying for the top spot in Iowa: Romney, Gingrich, and Ron Paul. Gingrich, who appears to be bleeding support from conservatives in the state, is the most consistent recipient of jabs, with Perry labeling him "the granddaddy of earmarks" over the weekend.

The Texas governor has yet to take aim during this northern Iowa bus tour against either Rep. Michele Bachmann or Rick Santorum, the socially conservative candidates who are jockeying for a surge along with Perry.

In Elkader, Perry worked to paint himself as a consummate outsider who has spent recent years at battle with the Beltway over education, regulation, and spending.

"That's really the choice that you got in this Republican primary," he said. "I'm the outsider, and everybody else up on that stage with me is either a Wall Street connected individual or an insider. And we don't have to choose this time between a Democrat spendaholic and a Republican spendaholic."