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Perry on TARP: "Single greatest act of thievery" in U.S. history

Rick Perry in Iowa
Rick Perry, walks to greet local residents during a campaign stop at the Pizza Ranch restaurant, Dec. 19, 2011, in Manchester, Iowa. AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

ELKADER, Iowa -- Rick Perry on Monday called the Troubled Assets Relief Program the "single greatest act of thievery in American history."

The worst part? "Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney were for it," Perry said.

Both Romney and Gingrich have said the Wall Street bailout was unsavory but necessary to save the financial system from collapse.

Perry has been on the attack during a bus tour through Iowa, which kicks off the Republican nomination season with Jan. 3 caucuses. On Sunday, he said Romney had raised corporate taxes to close a budget deficit in Massachusetts, and Gingrich had drawn on the Social Security fund to balance the U.S. budget.

While the Senate was considering the TARP bill to try to head off an international financial collapse, Perry - then head of the Republican Governors Association - signed a letter with his Democratic counterpart urging Congress to "leave partisanship at the door and pass an economic recovery package.... If Congress does not act soon, the situation will grow appreciably worse."

But later that day, Perry sent out another statement in his capacity as governor of Texas saying Congress "should not be in the business of using taxpayer dollars to bail out corporate America." Politifact, a fact-checking website, has rated his claim that he never supported the bailout as "half true."

Perry calls himself an outsider and has pledged to end all bailouts if he becomes president, a line that has been popular with voters he's spoken to in northern Iowa. His proposals to make Congress a part-time body and impose term limits on federal judges have also been popular with audiences here.

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