CLEAR LAKE, Iowa -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry took a shot at former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's previous career in private equity, saying his rival in the Republican presidential primary is "part of Wall Street."
"With all due respect to my friends who are standing on the stage with me asking you for your support, they're either Washington insiders, they're in Congress today, or either part of or have been part of Wall Street," Perry said.
Perry made this comment while railing against government bailouts of Wall Street banks and the auto industry during a campaign stop in Iowa on Saturday.
"It's stunning that we as a government would be bailing out private-sector industries," Perry said. "If you're too big to fail you're too big, and I don't care if you're a company or a country."
"No more bailouts," he said. "You draw a straight line between Washington, D.C., and Wall Street. That's the problem that's going on in this country."
"There's not anybody in that crowd that has the will and the principle and the discipline to roll into Washington, D.C., and to clean up the corruption that's going on in that city, or in both of those cities," Perry said, speaking of Washington and New York.
Romney's career at Bain Capital, a private equity company headquartered in Boston, is often raised by the former governor as the type of private sector experience that makes him the most qualified candidate. Bain, while lacking a Wall Street address, can also be a political liability.
Jim Rickards, a former general counsel for Long Term Capital Management -- which was bailed out in 1998 by a syndicate of private banks -- told HuffPost that there is something of a "symbiotic relationship" between Wall Street and private equity firms.
"Wall Street raises the money for private equity," Rickards said. "When you're a private equity firm, how do you get the money to buy a company? If you're Bain Capital, those guys only put out 10 percent, maybe less. How do they get the rest of the money from target companies? They get it from Wall Street."
The Huffington Post asked Perry after his speech whether he was specifically saying that Romney was a "part of Wall Street."
"Yeah," he said.
When it was pointed out that Romney did not work on Wall Street, Perry defended his remark.
"I don't think you have to actually have an address on Wall Street to be a part of Wall Street. I don't think anybody gets confused that Bain Capital is part of that whole Wall Street structure. I don't think that's lost on anybody," Perry said.
HuffPost asked Perry if he thought Bain had created anything of value, since one of the most common complaints about Wall Street -- ones shared by the recent Occupy movement, the Tea Party and many other Americans unaffiliated with either movement -- has been that much of its work has been to use leverage to create money out of money while producing little or nothing of ultimate social value.
"Oh yeah, that's not the point. That's not the point," Perry said. "The point is, Wall Street, and the corruption that's gone on there is -- there are a lot of really fine, good people on Wall Street that really have done nothing wrong. But there is a clear connection between Washington, D.C., Fannie, Freddie, Wall Streeters... And that's what's got to be cleaned up."
It's not clear exactly what Perry's specific point was in connecting Washington, the government mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and Wall Street, and a Perry campaign spokesman did not respond to a request for clarification.
It's the second time this week that Romney's career at Bain has come under criticism from a primary opponent. On Monday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said Romney -- whose net worth is estimated to be around $200 million -- should give back the money he made from his time working for Bain.
Responding to Romney's criticism of his work for Freddie Mac, Gingrich said he would listen to Romney "if he would like to give back all the money he's earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain."
Private equity restructurings of the companies they take over do, in fact, result sometimes in the loss of jobs, and such a criticism is sure to be one of the Democrats' main attacks on Romney if he becomes the Republican nominee.
Gingrich was pilloried by conservative intellectuals for demonizing free market capitalism, and retreated later this week, apologizing for his comment.
"I responded in a way that made no sense," Gingrich said.
It's unclear whether Perry's remark about Romney's career -- and condemnation of Wall Street -- will also be criticized by leading conservatives.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Long-Term Capital Management was bailed out by the New York Federal Reserve. It was bailed out by a consortium of private financial services companies under encouragement from the New York Federal Reserve.
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