Washington (CNN) - As he faces growing scrutiny about his conservative credentials, Texas Gov. Rick Perry called grassroots activists in the key early states of Iowa and South Carolina on Monday evening to address his record and take questions.
The Perry campaign conducted two "tele-town halls," dialing into the homes of targeted GOP voters across both states and asking them to hold for the governor, according to a South Carolina Republican source who received one of the calls.
Perry was introduced on the South Carolina call by former South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson, Perry's campaign chairman in the state.
The candidate immediately set about defending his record on three issues that have come to define his campaign in recent weeks: immigration, Social Security, and his 2007 executive order mandating that school girls be vaccinated against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer.
"He said, 'You all have heard a lot of things out there, so let me set the record straight,'" said the source who was on the South Carolina call. "I was struck by the fact that he started out on defense instead of offense."
Perry was pummeled by his opponents in consecutive debates for defending the HPV effort and supporting a 2001 Texas bill that grants in-state college tuition to the children of illegal immigrants.
The governor's aggressive defense of the immigration bill during last week's GOP debate in Orlando was a contributing factor in his embarrassing second-place finish in Saturday's Presidency 5 Straw Poll, a contest he was expected to win.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, has pointedly accused Perry of wanting to dismantle Social Security.
Dawson, Perry's South Carolina chairman, confirmed that the town hall took place Monday and called it "a general rally-the-troops call."
Perry spokesman Mark Miner said Perry also conducted a tele-town hall in Iowa, which will hold the leadoff contest of the GOP nomination next year, to deliver a similar message.
"He takes issues head on," Miner said, "unlike Mitt Romney, who changes his positions frequently."
Dawson said Perry "went right into it" on the South Carolina call.
"He said, 'Let me clear these things up and tell you where I am. This is my stance from me, not the media, not the pundits,'" Dawson said of the governor.
He said Perry did not back away from the positions he outlined in the debates, but spent more time explaining them than he was allowed by the television networks.
According to Dawson, Perry told activists on the call that the immigration bill was "the right thing to do" in Texas, where it was opposed by just four state legislators.
"He talked about immigration extensively," Dawson said. "And he offered his vision of how the border can be secured and will be secure if he is president."
Perry also discussed his ideas for job creation and taxes, Dawson said.
Perry addressed the issues for roughly five minutes before opening the call to questions, explained the South Carolina source on the call, who said Perry sounded like he was trying to reassure conservative voters after a troubling few weeks.
"If he is having a tele-town hall in South Carolina and the things he talked about are defending his positions on immigration, Social Security and HPV, that is telling to me," the source said.
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All these GOP-baggere candidates do is stay insulated among their ignorant base. Can't wait for them to start answering to real American patriots (anybody but GOP-bagger supporters).
Perry's campaign is now in "damage control" mode after he was so badly defeated in the Florida straw poll by Herman Cain. They don't understand how this could have happened since FL Gov. Rick Scott had promised to deliver Florida to Perry.
If you watched Rick Scott in the video when he announced the results of the Florida straw poll, he looked like he was ready to cry when he announced Cain as the winner.
Reassure voters that what? he will continue bush tax cuts, keep putting wal-mart and exxon ahead of american people, keep kids in our country sounding a uneducated as he does, and keep executing possibly innocent people. Yes I feel so reassured.
Perry is much like Obama– Lots of brag and ideology with a touch of over the top arrogance! Like a community organizer he was gov. of Texas too long and has no international and economic experience. NO WAY as president!
When you drive through certain parts of Texas you just don't believe you are in the United States of America--- It's a slum !!!!! . Rick Perry will give twice amount of wrath that George Bush gave for eight long-–years.
That's great. A major GOP candidate has to reassure the TP gang that he is bigoted enough to be the country's leader. He proved during the last debate that he is dumb enough, but you can't just be stupid to satisfy that crowd. You have to be mean, too.
Perry attempts to reassure voters: "Yes, I am the boogeyman and I will steal your souls while you sleep. Is that okay with you?"
WELL SAID VICTORIA!! Now that he is in the big leagues we see his true colors..and he sounds terribly ignorant, worse than W. Bush if thats possible. Whats with the extreme execution interest... and giving in state tuition to illegals....campaign over cowboy.
How can anyone question the credentials of a candiate who has named his boots. I've named my shoes by the way, left and right, which should qualify me for higher office if not Emperor of the Alternative Right-Wing Universe.