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Jindal lends Perry a hand in Iowa

 

DEWITT, Iowa -- Sauntering through snowy streets with a dozen cameras in tow, two sitting United States governors on Tuesday talked haircuts and football with the residents of an eastern Iowa town, population about 5,000. 

Must be caucus season. 

Gov. Rick Perry, accompanied by endorser Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, stopped in DeWitt for a tour with the mayor as part of Perry's last-ditch-effort bus tour of over 40 cities in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. 

Perry signed an NFL jersey, played with an infant, and even mimed giving a customer at Art's barbershop a haircut as he made his way through town, insisting on shaking the hand or slapping the back of everyone he met -- even a bystander absorbed in a frosted danish. 

“Two things you don’t want from me: Singing to you and giving you a haircut," Perry joked with haircut-recipient Leroy Claussen, moments after holding the barber's tools inches from Claussen's head. 

It's the retail campaigning for which Perry is known, and which his campaign team hopes will vault him above his conservative rivals to a better-than-expected finish in the Jan. 3 contest. 

Jindal, who endorsed Perry in September, joined him on the road Tuesday for two days of the bus tour. At the first stop of the day, Jindal introduced his neighboring chief executive with a specific focus on Perry's leadership. 

"I've seen Rick Perry lead," he said in his introduction speech at the Decker Hotel in Maquoketa"I have seen first hand the difference between a man who's been governor of a state for 11 years and another man who gives a great speech, was a senator for a couple of years and then ran for president of the United States." 

The Louisiana Republican's steady and deliberate delivery of five reasons he's supporting Perry came with a fluidity that often escapes the candidate that he's endorsed. At one point, Jindal even came to his rescue after Perry flubbed one of the details of his own tax plan. 

"Thank you for correcting me on that governor," Perry replied when Jindal gently chimed in with the facts about deductions under Perry's flat tax proposal. "Not that I ever make a mistake. It's always good to have Bobby here to correct me."

With Jindal at his side, Perry largely avoided his usual daily attacks on rivals in front of Iowa audiences. But he told reporters that his "outsider" status differentiates him from Romney and Gingrich, both of whom formerly supported the individual health insurance mandate much-reviled by conservatives. 

"[Romney] has a real problem with this issue of being consistent on this Obamacare/Romneycare issue," he said at a brief press conference outside his bus as snow flurries swirled above. "Newt's an insider. So the issue's going to be do you want an insider - whether it's Wall Street or whether it's Washington - or do you want an outsider like myself." 

Perry, unlike Gingrich, has not called for a ceasefire of inter-candidate punches, and he said Tuesday that such contrasts are fair rather than wholly "negative." 

"As long as no one's misstating the facts then I don't consider that to be negative," he said. "I think it's always in the eye of the beholder."