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Perry's Fed Fight Dangerous Territory For Romney

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"Well, you know, I think Ben Bernanke is a student of monetary policy," Romney said. "He's doing as good a job as he thinks he can do in the--in the Federal Reserve. But, look, I'm not going to spend my time going after Ben Bernanke. I'm not going to take my effort and focus on the Federal Reserve. I'm going to focus my effort on the administration."

Romney faced another tough set of questions on Bernanke from Piers Morgan on CNN in June, but he declined to attack the Fed chair, only saying that he would likely appoint someone new in the post when his term was up and did not agree with every decision by the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, even more mainstream candidates like Tim Pawlenty enthusiastically bashed Bernanke

Harvard economic professor Greg Mankiw, an adviser to Mitt Romney for both his presidential campaigns, went much further into the pro-Fed camp this July, penning a stirring defense of Bernanke's policies in the New York Times from critics on the left and right alike.

"Mr. Bernanke has worked tirelessly to shepherd the economy through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and yet, for all his efforts, seems vastly underappreciated," Mankiw wrote.

If Perry pushes the issue, he could force Romney into the awkward position of defending Bernanke and the Fed on the stump, an unpopular move with many Republicans that also highlights the cultural differences between the two candidates by playing up Romney's Wall Street ties against Perry's modest West Texas roots. It could also bring the discussion back to TARP, which Bernanke is closely associated with, a debate that Perry used to great effect to defeat Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) in 2010, whom he labeled "Kay Bailout." While Perry's opposition to TARP wasn't ironclad at the time, Romney's past statements of support and close ties to finance make it a difficult fight for him to win.