Republican presidential contender Ron Paul likened Texas Gov. Rick Perry to a "candidate of the week" Friday afternoon and said his Republican opponent's poll numbers would fall quickly once voters get to know him better.
"He was the one saying, `Oh yeah, I'm all for secession,' and that kind of talk," Paul told The Associated Press. "The only thing I would advise is looking into him, looking at his record, and not just taking him at face value. Texas has had a lot of changes in these last eight years, not exactly positive either."
In a 2009 interview, Perry said there was no reason for Texas to secede from the union, but suggested it was a possibility if Washington political leaders continued to "thumb their nose at the American people."
Paul's aggressive criticism _ coupled with his rising media profile _ threaten to taint Perry's image among some Republican voters. Paul finished second in the Iowa straw poll and enjoys a passionate following in early voting states like New Hampshire as well. And while he espouses libertarian views, Paul dismissed speculation he would abandon his Republican candidacy for another party.
Asked directly whether he had ruled out a third-party bid, Paul said, "Essentially I have."
"The reason I rule it out, the easiest way, and this is disgusting, because we don't have a very good Democratic process here. ... The Republicans and Democrats write the laws, so they make it very hard to get on the ballot."
Since joining the Republican presidential contest last month, Perry has leaped ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in two national polls.
But in an interview on a bike trail along Lake Massabesic Friday afternoon, Paul suggested Perry was simply another "candidate of the week."
"There are a lot of candidates who climbed real fast and went down real fast," Paul said.
The Perry campaign had no immediate comment.