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Texans Paul, Perry take CPAC stage with different conservative messages

During back-to-back speeches in Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. Ron Paul and Texas Gov. Rick Perry stuck to their trademark talking points, displaying two distinct approaches to limited federal government. Though each paid homage to the tea party, U.S. Constitution and Founding Fathers, Paul elaborated on military non-interventionism and monetary policy, while Perry highlighted state sovereignty and border security.

Both Paul and Perry lauded the tea party and 2010 election results, saying the conservative moment cut across party lines.

“We don’t need to just change political parties, we need to change the philosophies of what this country is all about,” Paul said.

“Pink slips were handed out to legislators in both political parties,” Perry said.

He added, “It was awesome!”

At the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday, Paul was the first speaker to talk about the revolution in Egypt and the resignation of Pres. Hosni Mubarak. Calling Mubarak a “dictator,” Paul said the U.S. invested $70 billion in his regime, the majority of which Mubarak’s family siphoned off for themselves.

When asked what course of action the U.S. should take in Egypt, Paul said his answer is, “I would say we need to do a lot less, a lot sooner, not only in Egypt but around the world.”

He predicted the political uprising will spread to neighboring countries, until it hits Saudi Arabia, then the U.S. will see “real problems.”

Comparing U.S. foreign policy to military spending that led to the downfall of the Soviet Union, Paul said, “We just don’t flat out have the money, and we shouldn’t be doing it.”

Touching on the topic of the Federal Reserve, over which Paul’s congressional sub-committee has oversight, he said, “Our job is to figure out what the Federal Reserve has done, audit them and find out who their buddies are they’re taking care of.”

Paul lays out his case against the central banking system in his latest book, “End the Fed.”

That’s not to be confused with Perry’s book against U.S. government intrusions, called, “Fed up!”

Like Paul, Perry did not reveal his 2012 political aspirations in his CPAC speech, nor did either refer to the other when speaking. The two Texans are each the subject of speculation for a possible White House bid in 2012, though Paul is keeping his options open and Perry says he’s not running.

Perry said, “I stand before you today as a governor and as a lifelong conservative who is deeply, deeply concerned with the fed government and its willful neglect of its responsibility.”

He re-affirmed his commitment to states’ sovereignty over rights not delegated to the federal government. “As a governor, I like to focus on the 10th amendment. It’s a very sensible dividing line between our rights and their responsibilities,” Perry said.

Perry, who refused to meet with newspaper editorial boards during his 2010 re-election bid, alluded in his speech to “big government advocates and their friends in the mainstream media.”

On the one hand, according to Perry, the federal government has overstepped its bounds with things like “Obamacare,” while on the other it is not performing its key duties, such as border security.

“In the rush to become all things to all people, the federal government has lost sight of its core responsibilities. As a result we’re stuck in this frustrating paradox where Washington actually neglects things it’s clearly supposed to be doing, while interfering in other areas where they are neither welcome nor authorized,” Perry said.

Perry called on Congress to create a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution — one of his designated emergency items for the Texas Legislature. He also alluded to replacing federal health care spending with block grants to states, a topic also on state policymakers’ minds.

Perry took time to brag on Texas and its pro-business economic policies.

“People oughta be pointing to Texas and saying, ‘That is what this country oughta be aspiring to be about.’ Then get the hell out of the way and let the private sector do what the private sector does best,” he said.

Texas “is not some problem-free Nirvana that’s been created out there,” Perry said. “–Close.”

Perry didn’t mention the state’s estimated $27 billion budget shortfall in order to maintain services over the next two years.

Perry, who is chair of the Republican Governors Association, appealed to CPAC attendees to elect conservative Republican governors.

“Governors will lead the charge for reformation in this country,” he said.

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