Steve Forbes says Perry's still the best candidateBy NANCY BEAN FOSTER
Union Leader Correspondent
December 28. 2011 7:08PM
MILFORD - Rick Perry has taken some serious punches, but he's still in the fight and is the best man to lead the country out of its current economic morass, Steve Forbes told the Milford Rotary Club on Wednesday.
Forbes, the chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, who sought the Republican nomination himself in 1996 and 2000, made several stops in New Hampshire on Wednesday stumping for Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Perry is currently campaigning in Iowa in preparation for the caucuses that will be held next Tuesday.
During the Rotary Club lunch, Forbes spoke about Perry's strengths as governor of Texas, his ability to create a climate that brought jobs into the state while slashing spending and holding the line on taxes.
And Perry's plans for fixing the country's current economic crisis are the most reasonable of all the candidates, said Forbes.
Stopping the Federal Reserve from printing massive amounts of money to try and fix problems that can't be fixed if the dollar becomes weakened in the process is hurting the United States, Forbes said.
'Rick Perry understands the need for a stable dollar,' he said.
Perry's plan for a 20 percent flat tax, with a few exemptions built in to help average folk, is a much-needed alternative to what Forbes called President Barack Obama's 'Darth Vader' tax policy. The current tax code, all nine million words of it, needs to be killed and a new tax system put in place, said Forbes.
'Rick Perry's recognized that it's beyond reform.'
Forbes also said Perry understands the destructive forces of over-regulation are preventing Americans from restoring the economy through innovation.
'Regulation costs the American economy $1.75 trillion a year,' he said. 'There's a lot of entrepreneurial spirit in this country, but it needs the right environment to grow.'
And repealing the so-called 'Obamacare' health care reform is necessary in order for the country to find the right solution for out-of-control costs and a broken system.
'This is the most important election since 1980,' said Forbes, and Perry 'has proven that he can govern a large state and get things done.'
But Rotarian Dick D'Amato expressed doubt that Perry could lead the nation after stumbling over his own policy proposals during a debate.
'How do you expect this man to be President if he can't remember the three departments of government he wants to get rid of?' asked D'Amato.
But Forbes responded by saying it wasn't Perry's mistakes he looked at, but rather how he handled himself in the aftermath of those mistakes by putting himself out there and taking his lumps.
'What impresses me is what you do after you make a mistake,' he said. 'Part of campaigning is that it brings you down to earth. There are going to be days when things don't go right.'
In an interview following the Rotary luncheon, Forbes said that while Perry has a tough fight ahead of him in Iowa and New Hampshire, the candidate is in it for the long haul and has a chance of turning the tides against Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, his two most serious opponents in the race.
Romney, Forbes said, lacks the policy ideas necessary to make real changes in Washington and is also going to have a difficult time facing off against Obama because the Massachusetts health care policy adopted while he was governor of the Bay State so closely resemble Obamacare.
'It's hard to go against Obamacare when that plan was based on his plan,' said Forbes.
For Gingrich, while he's got a strong plan for taxes, the problem is a lack of leadership skills as witnessed by members of Congress who served with him when he was Speaker of the House, said Forbes.
'His executive ability isn't there,' Forbes said. 'He had real problems when he ran the house.'
And though Paul will likely take a solid 15 percent of the vote in the primaries, Forbes said his strong domestic policy ideas are outweighed by the flaws in his foreign policy.
'On foreign policy he's way off-base and unrealistic in the world we live in,' Forbes said.
Though Perry won't win Iowa, having a decent showing in the caucuses will help him establish credibility going into the primaries, Forbes said. And though Romney will likely win New Hampshire, Forbes believes there's plenty of room for Perry to achieve stronger numbers in the coming months.
'Nobody's going to be able to deliver a knock-out blow in this primary,' Forbes said.
Asked if he'd consider tossing his own hat into the ring again, Forbes said no.
'I prefer being an agitator now,' he said.