Perry: Bush "Missed Some Opportunities"

Perry: Bush "Missed Some Opportunities"

By Scott Conroy - November 8, 2010

WASHINGTON - Texas Gov. Rick Perry said on Monday that his predecessor in Austin, former President George W. Bush, will be remembered as a successful president, but added that future generations' positive assessment of Bush "won't be based on fiscal issues, it'll be based on his keeping us free and keeping us safe."

Perry became governor in late 2000 when Bush stepped down upon being elected president. The current Texas governor reflected on Bush's legacy as the former president is promoting his new memoir, Decision Points, which will be released on Tuesday.

"I do think that he may go down as more than a good president, even above that," Perry said of Bush. "But at the same time, I think they missed some opportunities to send some good messages to the Congress that was spending too much money frankly on programs that we can't afford. Medicaid Part D is a great example."

Perry also criticized the No Child Left Behind Act, which he derided as a "one size fits all" education policy.

Perry was in Washington to promote his own new book, Fed Up!: Our Fight To Save America From Washington, a small-government treatise that expounds upon many of the fiscal principles that the tea party movement has emphasized.

During the question and answer session with reporters, Perry frequently asserted his belief that the current balance of power should be tilted toward the states. But Perry, who famously suggested in 2009 that Texas could secede from the union one day, said that his book is not a states' rights manifesto.

"This book isn't about states' right; this book is about freedom," Perry said. "This book's about freedom from overtaxation, overregulation, that's what this book is about."

Last Tuesday, Perry was re-elected to serve an unprecedented third full term as Texas governor, defeating former Houston Mayor Bill White 55 percent to 42 percent.

Perry on Monday ruled himself out as a potential presidential candidate in 2012, insisting that he will be governor until the end of his four-year term, as long as he is still alive.

Although he refused to speak about individual potential candidates - aside from taking a jab at Mitt Romney's universal health care law in Massachusetts - Perry offered his thoughts on the kind of nominee he thinks the Republican Party should turn to in 2012.

"I think you've got to have a committed fiscal conservative," Perry said. "The great difference between Obama and the ideal candidate is this is an individual who truly believes that if you'll throw more money - federal government money - at the problem, at some point in time, it will heal, and I just don't think there are enough Americans out there who believe this."

Perry said that Obama "is clearly an individual who believes John Maynard Keynes is right," but that Republicans needed to stand by the principle that infusing the economy with federal funds was not an effective way to promote growth.

Perrry cited earmarks, Medicaid and federal education funding as areas in which the government could cut back immediately, but he was also willing to go a step further than some other prominent Republicans in suggesting that the Department of Defense should also be fair game for spending cuts.

"If we are really going to lay out ideas that can solve the challenges of this economic crisis this country faces, then everything needs to be on the table," Perry said.

Perry also broke from a frequent GOP talking point in suggesting that Ronald Reagan was not the "be all, end all" role model for a Republican president.

"Ronald Reagan was a beloved president of the United States," Perry said. "I talk about him in my speeches, but I also talk about other presidents. We have had some great individuals to serve as presidents of the United States. John Kennedy gets talked about from a smaller government, tax cutting president."

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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