Texas Gov. Rick Perry aimed his sharpest criticism at President Barack Obama rather than his GOP rivals as he campaigned Friday in coastal South Carolina, eight days ahead of the state’s primary.

Perry, using a light touch as he spoke to people in crowded restaurants in Bluffton and Charleston, mostly stuck with the campaign speech he used in Iowa and elsewhere. He mentioned front-runner Mitt Romney by name only when a Charleston man said he feared Perry has a poorer chance of beating Obama this fall.

Perry cited Texas’ record of job creation during his 11 years as governor, and said it is far better than Obama’s national record. “Romney cannot make that contrast,” he said.

In one of his rare light-hearted moments, Perry said anyone seeking higher taxes and mandated health insurance coverage “can move to Massachusetts.” It was another jab at Romney’s four-year record as Massachusetts governor.