Portsmouth, New Hampshire (CNN) - Rick Perry was greeted by protesters Thursday morning as he met with voters at a Seacoast cafe, a clear sign that the 2012 campaign for the presidency has entered a new phase.
"Hands off our Medicare," about 35 protesters chanted as the Republican presidential candidate shook hands outside Popovers on the Square, a popular local eatery.
The protesters were largely outnumbered by supporters as well as those looking for a glimpse of the latest entrant into the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
Perry received a similar reception at his second event of the day in Dover. But he did not seem disturbed by the commotion, as he signed autographs and mugged for a camera as he chewed a bite of popover. Despite the loud chanting, Perry made two loops of the outdoor seating area at the cafe to shake people's hands.
Several feet away Democratic protesters from the Alliance for Retired Americans held signs warning Perry to "Back Off My Social Security."
Perry criticized the entitlement program in a book, calling it a "Ponzi scheme" and a "failure."
"That's a stunning position to take and I don't think that's going to go over well in New Hampshire," said State Rep. Robin Read, D-Portsmouth.
One woman who did not appear to be affiliated with the protesters ushered her son up to the governor and prompted him with questions for Perry like "do you believe in evolution?"
"It's a theory that's out there," Perry told the child. "It's got some gaps in it. In Texas we teach both Creationism and evolution."
The mother then told her young son: "Ask him why he doesn't believe in science," as Perry moved onto another conversation.