Texas Gov. Rick Perry will visit gun manufacturer Beretta USA Wednesday during his trip to entice Maryland companies to move to the Lone Star State. Later in the day, Perry will square off on television with the governor whose state he came to criticize.
A Perry aide called the Beretta visit a "long-standing appointment" that coincides with the Republican governor's visit and $500,000 advertising campaign that knocks Maryland's business climate and takes a swipe at the taxes raised during the tenure of Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat.
Perry has no public events planned for his one-day visit, but instead will meet with several companies and attend a private reception, an aide said.
O'Malley and Perry — both considered potential presidential candidates in 2016 — will face off on CNN's Crossfire Wednesday evening, aides for both governors confirmed.
The show will mark the governors' first encounter in three years. Last week, as the news of Perry's sojourn irked Maryland's Democratic leadership, O'Malley said he and Perry had not spoken since a televised 2011 debate in which "I kicked his [expletive]. And he's never come back for more."
At the time, the men were the respective chairmen of the Democratic Governors Association and Republican Governors Association.
Perry's 60-second radio spot, which has been airing since last week, says, "When you grow tired of Maryland taxes squeezing every dime out of your business, think Texas."
O'Malley has criticized Perry's one-two punch of television ads and a personal visit as a "tired old PR gimmick" Perry has used in other states. He predicted that Perry "probably has some Maryland company teed up to go to Texas ahead of time and he comes here and then claims credit afterward. But I'm looking forward to his arrival."
Several states — including Texas — have courted the Accokeek-based Beretta after the company announced last spring it would consider relocating when Maryland passed a sweeping new gun bill that bans the sale of some products Beretta manufactures.
Beretta executives have since said the company plans to keep its Maryland plant, but will explore future expansions elsewhere.
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