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Trying to reassure GOP, Perry says he has the ability to debate Obama

Rick Perry on Sunday sought to reassure Republican primary voters concerned about his wobbly presidential debate performances, saying he would draw sharp distinctions with the Democratic incumbent in televised showdowns next year.

"I'm not worried a bit that I'll be able to stand on the stage with Barack Obama and draw a very bright line," Perry said.

The Texas governor, driving for front-runner status as the most viable conservative in the wide-open field, offered up samples of the scathing rhetoric he uses against the president, from the economy to war policy and personal credibility.

Perry also defended his voluntary flat-tax proposal and the notion that it could bring in trillions of dollars less in revenue than the current tax code.

"There's nothing wrong with lower revenue," he said. "I don't want more revenue in Washington, D.C.'s hands. I want more revenue in the private-sector job creators' hands."

The tough talk came as Perry manages the fallout from his debate performances and all of the GOP candidates fight to lead the pack in Iowa just two months before its caucuses.

How, he was asked on "Fox News Sunday," would he perform against erudite President Obama in a general election next year?

What counts, Perry said, is how a candidate would govern.

"We got a great debater, a smooth politician in the White House right now, that's not working really good for America," Perry said.

Perry plans to attend four of the debates now scheduled in November, as well as a December one. "With as many debates as we got coming up," he said, "I may end up being a pretty good debater before it's all been said and done."

On Iraq and Afghanistan, the Texas governor accused Obama of pursuing an "aimless foreign policy" by making big decisions without what Perry considers adequately considering the advice of his commanders. He said the president has endangered Americans on the ground by announcing that U.S. troops would leave Iraq by year's end.

"He has lost his standing from the standpoint of being a commander in chief who has any idea about what's going on in those theaters," Perry said.

On the leading domestic issue, Perry said the president has "taken an experiment with the American economy and turned it into an absolute Frankenstein experience."