CRESTON, Iowa -- With a week to go before the caucuses, many of the GOP candidates for president are in Iowa today.
At a stop in Creston, at Adams Street Espresso, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that, as president, he would do all he can to make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential as possible.
The federal government's role in local education?
"It's none of their business," Perry said.
Incentives for alternative energy?
Let the markets dictate what works, and let states determine incentives, Perry contends.
Perry even wants to cut the salaries and work hours of members of Congress. And if legislators couldn't balance the budget, Perry said he would slash his own salary "in a heartbeat."
"Not a problem at all," Perry said.
While Perry's small government approach on a range of issues prompted loud rounds of applause from the crowd, voters at the coffee shop were especially receptive to Perry's words on immigration.
Perry, who has gotten flack for allowing the children of those in his state illegally to get state college tuition breaks, showed up with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an Arizona law enforcement officer whose stance on illegal immigrants is controversial with some and beloved by others.
The Mexican border is not safe because weapons and drugs are being smuggled across it, Perry said. As president, Perry said he would send thousands of National Guard troops to the border. It will be secure within a year after taking office, Perry promised.
But those words may not have impressed some at the Creston event who said Perry's stance on illegal immigration in Texas has been too soft.
"I like Perry's record," said Larry Mark, who lives in Creston. "I don't like his comments about immigration concerning the tuition issue."
"I like his family values, I like his Christian background," said Lori Jeter also of Creston. "Not too thrilled about the immigration comment. But you're never going to like everything about any of them."
In fact, that's why choosing a candidate this caucus season is tougher for Jeter than in the past.
"There's maybe two or three or four of them that if you could put them together, you'd really have something," she said. "It's really been really hard to choose."
Meanwhile, Bob Eklund of Afton came to the event unsure about Perry. But after hearing him talk, Eklund said he's likely to vote for Perry next Tuesday - and for reasons that are difficult to pin down, he said.
"I don't know if there's any one thing," Eklund said, adding that he hadn't been too impressed with Perry in debates. "I expected polished politics, but I thought he was genuine. He fooled me if he isn't."
Perry also tried out a talking point that will likely be heard a lot in the days leading up to the caucus. Perry said he's an outsider who hasn't been tainted by Washington.
His rivals, however, are Washington insiders.
"I've got all the respect in the world for the folks they identify as the front-runners in this race," Perry said. "You just ask yourself: if we replace a Democrat insider with a Republican insider, is that going to change Washington, D.C? No. It's not."