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Paul: Perry’s not really conservative

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Republican presidential contender Ron Paul, for the second day in a row, criticized Rick Perry's record as a conservative and cast the Texas governor as a wolf in sheep's clothing.

In an open letter to the Perry camp, Paul campaign spokesman Jesse Benton hammers the three-term governor's record and accuses Mr. Perry of acting like a Democrat during his long political career.

Mr. Perry, he said, praised Hillary Clinton's health care plan in the 1990s, pushed for federal stimulus funds and supported welfare for illegal immigrants. He also notes that Mr. Perry backed a mandate that 12-year-old girls be vaccinated against sexually transmitted diseases, raised taxes twice and more than doubled Texas' debt during his time in office.

"You supported ALL of these bad ideas that are inconsistent with how most Republicans understand conservatism, yet you now try to swagger your way into the tea party," he wrote, underscoring the Paul camp's message that GOP voters shouldn't trust Mr. Perry.

The letter was floated hours before Wednesday night's presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., where Mr. Perry is expected to stand on the same stage as Mr. Paul and the rest of his Republican rivals for the first time since entering the race and sprinting to the front of the pack.

Mr. Perry was first elected to the Texas Legislature as a Democrat in 1984, switching parties five years later at the age of 39.

The Paul camp started lobbing bombs at the fellow Texan Tuesday, releasing a "Trust" television ad that contrasts Mr. Perry's support of Al Gore's presidential campaign in 1988 with Mr. Paul's endorsement of Ronald Reagan at the 1976 Republican presidential convention.

Mark Miner, Mr. Perry's spokesman, responded by unearthing a letter Mr. Paul wrote in 1987 "resigning" from the Republican Party, in large part, according to the letter, because of the big deficits and debt run up by the Reagan administration.

"There is no credibility left for the Republican Party as a force to reduce the size of government. That is the message of the Reagan years," Mr. Paul said in the stinging letter.

"Thanks to the president and Republican Party, we have lost the chance to reduce the deficit and the spending in a non-crisis fashion. Even worse, big government has been legitimized in a way the Democrats never could have accomplished," he wrote.

The Paul campaign, though, announced Wednesday that the "Trust" ad will run twice nationally tonight during the GOP presidential debate. "Other candidates are parroting Dr. Paul's principles in their rhetoric, but their records prove they cannot be trusted to live up to their words," Mr. Benton said.

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