Perry tries to balance campaign, politics and wildfires, returns to Texas

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on September 5, 2011 at 6:44 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 6 at 6:36 PM

DALLAS - The wildfires, especially those in central Texas, are altering thousands of lives and acres.
 
They also altered the campaign schedule of Governor Rick Perry, who planned to spend Labor Day in South Carolina, the second primary state and one important to Perry.
 
But as a candidate, Perry keeps a politically tricky schedule and for the first time in his campaign for the White House, he pulled up and came home.
 
South Carolina is a state Perry needs to win if he falls short in Iowa and New Hampshire.
 
So at a town hall meeting, Perry answered questions on hot button issues.

"Day one when I walk into the Oval Office, I will sign an executive order to wipe out as much of Obamacare as I can," Perry said.
 
But the Texas wildfires suddenly burned hotter as a priority and he said he'd drop the rest of his schedule.

"I'm leaving here as soon as I get through, I had a couple more events in South Carolina that I was scheduled to do, but I am going directly from here going back to Texas," Perry said.
 
The wildfires show Perry's challenge in balancing campaigning and governing.
 
Staying in South Carolina would let critics go after him for ignoring the folks back home during a spreading natural disaster.
 
Texas Democrats didn't miss the chance, and in a statement said, "Perry spent the year jetting around the country playing celebrity while Texans dealt with wildfires, rolling blackouts, and the disaster his own Party created, the state's massive budget shortfall."
 
But by returning, Perry can show he's still in charge.

"Our state has got wildfires that are running quite wild and zero containment right now and the winds are supposed to pick up again so just keep those folks in your prayers," Perry said in South Carolina.
 
The Perry campaign also canceled events in California Tuesday, but confirmed Perry will attend the debate in California Wednesday night. There he'll face fire of a different kind: from his Republican opponents.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com
 

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