Perry's recent appearances in the state suggest he's also ready to hit others from the right. Right now, his strongest challenge is coming from Cain, the former Godfather's Pizza chief executive who has surged in polls in recent weeks. At an Iowa dinner with social conservatives over the weekend, Perry attacked Cain's record on abortion after Cain told CNN that abortion "ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make."
"It is a liberal canard to say I am personally pro-life but government should stay out of that decision," Perry said in his speech there.
In recent days Perry's also wandered into questions about whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States — a debunked theory that's still discussed among some elements of the conservative base. "I don't have a definitive answer," Perry told Parade magazine when he was pressed about where the president was born.
Perry's also tacking to the right on taxes. While Romney's plan would make minor changes to the tax code and Cain's 9-9-9 plan would include a national sales tax, Perry is set to unveil a flat income tax plan in South Carolina on Tuesday. The campaign hasn't yet released details, but has said that businessman and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes is a key adviser for the plan.
"People's mouths will water" when they see the plan, Forbes said Friday.
It's a policy idea that's often popular in the beginning but difficult to defend over a long campaign. Critics across the political spectrum complain that the current tax code is too complex and riddled with loopholes that allow specific groups to pay less. Many conservatives argue a flat tax would be simpler and fairer because everyone would be taxed at the same rate.
But advocates also typically call for eliminating some or all of the existing tax deductions, such as those allowed for mortgage interest payments, gifts to charity and some medical costs. Many of those are popular and have broad support from voters.
Associated Press writer Philip Elliott contributed to this report.
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