WASHINGTON - Texas Governor Rick Perry, the lead Republican presidential candidate, Monday tempered earlier comments about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, but held firm in his opposition to more monetary stimulus from the central bank.
Perry, who caused a stir in August when he said "we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas" if Bernanke launched another round of buying government bonds to lower interest rates -- known as quantitative easing -- rolled back on Monday, critizing the practice without targeting the Fed chief.
"I said that if you are allowing the Federal Reserve to be used for political purposes that it would be almost treasonous," Perry said at a Republican debate when asked if he stood by his earlier comments.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who has said he would not re-appoint Bernanke, has been less critical of the Fed and defended the central bank's role to preserve the value of currency and ensure investor confidence.
"Of course we should see what the Fed is doing - there should be some oversight to make sure that it is acting properly - but at the same time we need to recognize we need to have a Fed," Romney said.
Eight candidates gathered in Florida to face-off in the race to win the Republican nomination and the chance to unseat Democratic President Barack Obama.
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