NEWTON, Iowa — Texas Gov. Rick Perry is continuing to tie the health care program enacted by fellow Republican Mitt Romney in Massachusetts to President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

Perry told more than 100 Republican activists at a coffee shop in Iowa Friday morning: "It doesn't matter if it's in Massachusetts or Washington, D.C. It's bad medicine."

Perry has recently shot to the top of national polls as the choice for the GOP presidential nomination, edging Romney. Romney has responded by criticizing Perry's call for dismantling Social Security and turning it over to the states.

Perry's response is his sharpest attack yet on Romney, who ran for president in 2008 but failed to win the nomination. Perry was making stops across Iowa, home of the leadoff caucuses.