MELISSA BLOCK, host: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host: And I'm Robert Siegel. Governor Rick Perry dove into Republican presidential waters this week with a splash the size of Texas. He held events in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

And as NPR's Ari Shapiro reports from New Hampshire, Perry's first week in the race showed that he is not shying away from controversy.

ARI SHAPIRO: The Texas governor jumped in Monday showing he's more than happy to attack, even the chairman of the Federal Reserve. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Rick Perry said: If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don't know what you all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

Governor RICK PERRY: I mean printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous - treasonous in my opinion.

SHAPIRO: The Fed chairman is an independent post, and the current chairman was a Bush appointee. Republican guru Karl Rove, who worked in the Bush White House, was not amused. He told FOX News you don't accuse the chairman of the Federal Reserve of being a traitor to his country.

(SOUNDBITE OF INTERVIEW)

KARL ROVE: And suggesting that we treat him pretty ugly in Texas, you know, that's not, again, a presidential statement.

SHAPIRO: President Obama was more forgiving, or some might say patronizing, on CNN.

(SOUNDBITE OF INTERVIEW)

President BARACK OBAMA: I'll cut him some slack. He's only been at it for a few days now.

SHAPIRO: On Wednesday, Perry arrived here in New Hampshire, the country's first primary state, where he spoke at Politics and Eggs, a bipartisan meeting of business leaders. He planted a religious, social conservative flag by saying that scientists have manipulated data on global warming.

PERRY: And I don't think, from my perspective, that I want America to be engaged in spending that much money on still a scientific theory that has not been proven.

SHAPIRO: But scientists and most governments across the globe agree the data show that global warming is real, and caused by humans.

University of New Hampshire political scientist Andy Smith was at that breakfast. He says talking about social issues to a moderate New Hampshire crowd was not Perry's worst offense Wednesday morning. In Smith's view, the whole speech just belly-flopped.

ANDY SMITH: Obvious applause lines didn't generate any applause, to the point where I as an audience member felt somewhat uncomfortable. It was like a comedian kind of falling flat onstage.

SHAPIRO: On Thursday, Perry raised eyebrows again in coastal Portsmouth.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SHAPIRO: On a bright, sunny morning, he greeted people enjoying coffee and pastries at Popovers Cafe. A boy, prompted by his mother, asked Perry how old the Earth is. Perry said: I hear your mother was asking about evolution. It's a theory that's out there. It's got some gaps.

PERRY: In Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools, because I figure you're smart enough to figure out which one is right.

SHAPIRO: Actually, creationism is not part of the Texas public school curriculum. Texas does call on students to evaluate and analyze evolution, which could allow teachers to discuss creationism. At Popovers, a crowd of protesters hovered on the periphery.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hands off our Medicare, Perry.

SHAPIRO: They carried signs saying: "No Texas trash talk" and "Another Texas idiot for sale." Sixty-one-year-old George Carlisle is a bit more open minded. He owns a local real estate company and lives right above the cafe.

GEORGE CARLISLE: These guys are on and these women are on 24 hours a day. And I think it's wonderful. But we've got to be ready to see their humanity, too, and their foibles, and their flaws. If you put a microphone in front of Abraham Lincoln for 24 hours a day, I'm sure he'd say something stupid.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SHAPIRO: Fifty-one-year-old Steve Scott is reserving judgment as well.

STEVE SCOTT: The joke around New Hampshire is that, you know, you don't really know anybody until you meet them three times, and that goes with the federal candidates.

SHAPIRO: And do you have a favorite in the Republican race yet?

SCOTT: I haven't met any of them three times yet.

SHAPIRO: Now he's met Rick Perry once.

Ari Shapiro, NPR News, Concord, New Hampshire.

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