WASHINGTON Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry on Thursday described Washington as "a seedy place" while defending what he said was his manner of speaking plainly.
Since launching his campaign on August 13, the Texas governor has made some statements that drew criticism from the White House and some Republican opinion leaders.
"With all due respect to anybody that's out there either directly or indirectly criticizing me because I speak plainly, I call it like I see it," Perry said on the Laura Ingraham radio show.
"Look, I am not an establishment figure -- never have been and frankly I don't want to be. I dislike Washington. I think it's a seedy place," he said
The public statements that raised eyebrows in Washington did not dent support for Perry among Republican voters, according to polls released this week.
Perry, known for his strongly conservative social and fiscal political views, has taken a double-digit lead over the early favorite, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
Just days after entering the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Perry caused a stir when he seemed to threaten Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke over federal spending.
"If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don't know what y'all would do to him in Iowa but we -- we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas," Perry said to laughter from supporters at a campaign stop in Iowa.
Perry did not back away from his comments. His campaign said the Texas governor was expressing his frustration with the U.S. economic situation and the "out of control spending" in Washington.
(Reporting by JoAnne Allen; editing by Bill Trott)