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Perry: I don't have problem with drug-testing welfare recipients

Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks to local residents during a campaign stop at The Button Factory restaurant, Dec. 21, 2011, in Muscatine, Iowa. AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

MT. PLEASANT, Iowa - Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday he wouldn't be opposed to welfare recipients also being drug tested, joining fellow candidate Newt Gingrich in suggesting that federal aid should be tied to substance use.

"I don't have a problem with before you get any dollars from the federal government that you're drug tested," Perry said in response to a man who suggested the idea in a question to him at a meet-and-greet in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, that drew over 80 people. Perry pointed out that as a pilot in the Air Force, he himself had been drug tested. "I don't have a problem in the world with that," he said.

Gingrich made waves on the same subject when he told Yahoo News in late November one of the ways to curb drug use in part by making it more expensive. "It could be through testing before you get any kind of federal aid. Unemployment compensation, food stamps, you name it," he said.

The idea of requiring drug tests for people receiving federal assistance has been popular within Republican circles for some time and has come to head as an issue this year as three dozen states saw legislators attempt to tie substance use to benefits. The proposals have been met with controversy by civil liberties groups who say it violates the rights of those seeking assistance from the government.

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