STRATHAM, N.H. (AP) — Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry's swing through a key early presidential voting state continued Saturday with a boost from a Republican with direct ties to the Oval Office.
John H. Sununu, a former New Hampshire governor who was President George H.W. Bush's chief of staff, told a crowd of party faithful in Stratham that President Barack Obama and the Democrat-led Senate have put the country in danger.
"I don't think I've ever been as worried about what is going on in this country as I am now," Sununu said. "We have an absolutely incompetent president who is not even smart enough to know how bad the problems are. We have got to make a change."
"There's a handful or two of Republican governors and former governors who are great candidates," Sununu said. Rick Perry "is someone I suspect is going to be a very frequent visitor to the state of New Hampshire."
Perry's 2012 presidential campaign ended badly after a much-publicized stumble during a televised debate when he froze and couldn't name the third of three federal agencies he said he would work to eliminate. With that as a backdrop, this visit also includes last week's indictment on charges he abused his power when he vetoed funding for an ethics unit run by a prosecutor who had been arrested for drunken driving. Perry called the indictment political payback.
He said he hasn't decided to run again but is making visits to important early states including New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina.
If Perry was looking for a little love from the state where he finished a disappointing sixth in the 2012 primary, he found it in the cheers from the gathered. Linda Beyer retired to Falmouth, Maine, after the last election, but she and husband Bill returned Saturday to see the candidate they supported two years ago.
"I like his honesty. I like his delivery of being straightforward," Linda Beyer said. "He gets the job done. I've been following him and he just does a marvelous job of following through and getting things done."
Democrats have used the visit to tie state Republican candidates for governor and Senate to Perry, whom they call a "disgrace," and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another 2016 contender who is still dogged by a scandal in which aides orchestrated the shutdown of a bridge as political retribution.
In Stratham, Perry hit the same notes as the day before in events in Portsmouth, Manchester and Nashua. He criticized the federal government for overreach on things like health care and education overhaul and said it wasn't carrying out its constitutional duty to safeguard the southern border. He also ripped Obama specifically for foreign policy he said has put the nation in danger, invoking James Foley, the New Hampshire journalist slain by Islamic State militants.
"When a president says there's a red line, it has to mean something," Perry said.