COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa -- He's back for the home stretch. And did he mention he's "an outsider"?
After a four-day break for the Christmas holiday, Gov. Rick Perry pushed his credentials as an enemy of Washington Tuesday at the first of at least 19 Iowa campaign events in the sprint toward the Jan. 3 caucuses.
Speaking to a standing-room-only audience at a cafe in Council Bluffs, Perry's remarks were notably more concise and brief than at events before the holiday hiatus that were characterized by lengthy tangents into energy policy and his efforts to create jobs in Texas.
"Ask yourself," he urged the crowd at the Main Street Cafe, "If we replace a Democratic insider with a Republican insider, you think we're really going to change Washington, D.C.? No way."
The governor, who was running behind schedule for his first event of the day, spoke forcefully while glancing often at prepared remarks during his less-than-10-minute speech. He took no questions from voters.
Without directly naming his rivals, Perry took aim at Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney as "Republican insiders" who would maintain the status quo, and he slammed Ron Paul's foreign policy as one that could result in the destruction of the United States.
"You don't have to settle for Washington and Wall Street insiders who supported the Wall Street bailout and the Obamacare individual mandate," he said. "You don't have to resign yourself to voting for the wasteful Washington spending culture of earmarks and of deficits and this ever-rising debt that we've got. You don't have to vote for a candidate, who would allow Iran to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth and then ultimately America.
"You don't have to stand for that. You don't have to settle for that," he told applauding voters.
Perry is joined Tuesday and Wednesday by controversial Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who endorsed Perry last month and previously campaigned with him in New Hampshire.
Arpaio alluded to recent action taken against him by the Department of Justice, which accused the sheriff of violating the constitutional rights of Latinos in his efforts to curb illegal immigration.
"I had a sneak attack last week by the Obama administration," Arpaio said. "The Justice Department went after me, took away my authority. However we still have state laws, and I know the governor believes in state laws. So we need him in Washington. Please caucus and vote for Gov. Perry on Jan. 3rd."