Interview with Presidential Candidate Rick Perry

Interview with Presidential Candidate Rick Perry

By John King, USA - November 3, 2011

KING: As you try to press on and get some traction in the campaign, as you know, your speech up in New Hampshire Friday night got a lot of attention. And I just showed you this -- what -- I was stunned when I saw it on FOX News during -- sitting in my office yesterday, where their own banner says, New Hampshire man who hosted Rick Perry says he was sober.

What do you make of that?

PERRY: And -- and that was a fact.

KING: Jon Stewart making jokes about it. If you look at speech online, a million hits on YouTube.


PERRY: If they print any more money over there in Washington, the gold's going to be good.

Live free or die, victory or death, bring it.

Everybody's got a little slogan, right? Mine's cut, balance and grow.

Get that, yeah.

The ones that want to stay in the old system, pay the lawyers, pay the accountants all that money that's gone, or that!

You know, this is pretty easy math, subtract it, send it in. It's awesome.


PERRY: I love Herman. Is he the best?


PERRY: I had no idea how -- I haven't seen it. I know the speech that I gave and it was well-received, had an appropriate number of applause lines and standing ovation at the end of it. You know, such people as Dan Balz with "The Washington Post" was there, he was tweeting about it is my understanding, and said, you know, spot-on, he's hitting all of the right -- so I have no idea how these things get started, what have you.

So it was a good speech, well-received, and if I had the opportunity to do again, I would probably give it exactly like I gave it.

KING: Give it exactly like you gave it.

We're having a conversation in Iowa looking at some hybrid corn around us. You're spending a lot of time here this week. You're the first candidate to go up on television, you started here in this state. Hasn't been the best past month for you. How important Iowa? Is this a must-win state for you?

PERRY: Well, every state's a must-win as far as I'm concerned. We're not in it to come in second.

So we're talking to people what's important to the people of Iowa. And being a farm boy and a kid who grew up not unlike a lot of the people out here on the edges of the cities in Iowa, I have got a background that's pretty much right in line with them. Values that are the same, hard work, went to school at an ag school, got an agricultural degree, and then went back and farmed and ranched with my dad 13, 14 years. So there's a lot of similarities.

But the real issue that whether you're from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, whichever one of states you're from, how are you going to get those country working. And as the governor of Texas over the last decade, we've created more jobs than any other state in the nation. I do know how to create jobs. I do know how to get government out of people's hair and to let the private sector have their go at it, and that's what people are begging for in this country.

KING: I want to talk about your plan to do that. I want to ask you, first, though, you've never lost an election. As someone who when you got into the race shot straight up to the top, what gets through your mind now that you've had the fall?

You've gone from near 30 percent in the national polls at the top of a lot of the early states or close to the top in places like this, and now if you look at our most recent Iowa poll, you're down there, you've got Cain, Romney, Newt, and that Ron Paul and Rick Perry. To what do you attribute that?

PERRY: Well, in 2009, I was 25 points behind running for my third term as governor of Texas behind a very well-known and respected United States senator. And we just kept doing our work, focused on the issues that were important to Texans in that case.

I'm going to stay focused on issues that are important to Americans and talk about how to get Americans working, how to get Washington from a regulatory side out of companies like Pioneer's business and get this country back on track, economically. That's what Americans are interested in. So, we will stay focused, we will stay on message, and the end of the day, it will all turn out just right.

KING: You saw it'll all turn out all right, but when you see a poll that shows Herman Cain tied with you in Texas, that a bit of a wake-up call?

PERRY: Look, I told you I was 25 points behind, I was a sitting governor against a United States senator. So, it's just another poll. I really don't pay a lot attention to whether it's a YouTube spot or it's a poll. I know how to run an election, I know how to take the message to the people and that's what we going to keep doing, is talking to Americans about what they really care.

There are people sitting around the kitchen table today without a job. They don't have the dignity of taking care of their family. They're kids are coming home from school and they're still sitting there. That's the people I'm worried about and that's who I'm -- I'm talking to every day.

KING: Immigration is one of the issues that if you ask voters has hurt you a bit since you got into the race as they learn about your Texas record. We have governor Brewer of Arizona on the program last night and she said, when it comes to your views on the fence, that you can't have a fence everywhere, you think it's unrealistic, and your support for the in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, she thinks that will hurt you in the state of Arizona. In her words, what works in Texas won't work or sell in Arizona.

How would you answer that?

PERRY: Well, I think that's correct, and that's the reason we have 50 states and it's a reason I'm a big believer of the 10th Amendment, is that all states aren't alike.

What I do know is how to secure the border, and there's not anybody on that stage that's had to deal with this issue more than I have. The federal government's been abject failure in securing our border.

I do know how to secure the border, use the strategic fencing in the appropriate places, you have the boots on the ground, use technology and particularly the Predator drones and the aviation assets and you can shut the border down, you can secure it, you can stop the drug cartels from having easy access and the other terrorist groups. We know Hamas and Hezbollah are using Mexico as a base of operation.

Shut the border down. I know how to do it. I have had to deal with it. I have had Texas rangers, I have had our people there who have been harassed and shot out. Thank god none of them have been killed.

KING: I believe it was in an interview with Sean Hannity the other day, you said you could secure the border within a year.

PERRY: I think so.

KING: Is that -- is that realistic?

PERRY: Absolutely. I think you can secure that border within a year, but you've got to have a president that's committed to it.

You shift those aviation assets of which we have and put them on the border, we have a substantial number of aviation assets that could be used to download that real-time information to the local and the federal and the state law enforcement, and know exactly what's going on, on that border and be able to move very quickly to the place where you're having that type of action and shut that border down. I think you can do it in 12 months.

KING: But not a fence all the way across? You stand by...


PERRY: Well, the idea --

KING: -- unrealistic.

PERRY: Well, it'd take 10 to 15 years to build a fence.

KING: Right.

PERRY: I'm about securing this border now. There's places where a secure fence will work and that strategic type fencing will work, but the idea that people can easily just stand up and say, oh, let's build a fence and be done with it, wipe our hands, it's going to secure the border, that's not reality.

I have to deal with reality as a governor in the state of Texas, and the way that you secure that border the most quickly is by using the strategic fencing that you have, continue to be using it and putting it in place, but boots on the ground and those aviation assets and real-time information, that's how you secure the border.

KING: When you get criticized on the in-state tuition program, you've defended it and you've explained why you think you'd rather have them in school than sitting in the welfare line, rather have them in school than out committing crime on the streets somewhere, I would put that under the umbrella of what your predecessor as governor, President Bush, used to call compassionate conservatism.

What happened to that, especially in the Republican Party on the immigration issue? Why has the debate become so harsh?

PERRY: I put that in the category of being very wise economically. I mean, when you judge are you going to have taxpayers or tax wasters, and that's how Texans looked at it.

One thing you should have to keep in mind here, the reason we're having to deal with this is, again, because of the total failure of the federal government to secure that border. But beside that point, and whether it's Governor Brewer or governors in other states that have to deal with these issues, they're forced upon us. We don't get to sit on the sidelines. We have to make decisions on how we're going to deal with this.

Texans, by an overwhelming margin in the legislature, said we would rather have these young people moving towards getting their United States citizenship, be in our schools paying full in-state tuition and being taxpayers rather than kicking them over to the curb here, if you will, and having the state have to pick up the cost of this non-skilled, and in some cases, imprisoned individual.

KING: What does it mean, extend the definition of the conversation for me, when you say you oppose amnesty in any form? What does that mean for the millions of illegal immigrants who are here, some people say 20, some people say 10, some people say 8 million to 12 million, regardless of the number what does it mean for them? Does opposing amnesty mean round them up and kick them out?

PERRY: No. We've already had that conversation in this country. The idea that somehow we're going to round up 12 or however million people and ship them back to the country of origin is not reality.

KING: As you know, a lot of conservatives say that's the way do it, they don't want them to get any path to status, they say that's amnesty.

PERRY: And we're not talking about path to status here. We're talking about you're not going to pick up these folks.

But here what you do have to do, I think, is you have to identify them, you have to be able to give them some type of identification. Here's how they pay their taxes and they become a contributing part of the society instead of, as some people see them, just as a leech on society. That you can put a program into place of what these individuals can be identified and work visas and where they can move back and forth between countries, but not become United States citizens.

And I think that's where both McCain, that's where Romney, that's where even Bush went wrong when they talked about the issue of we're going to give amnesty to these individuals and people just said, no we're not.

KING: If you let them stay at all, though, and let them have those visas, some conservatives will say that's a form of amnesty. Because they came in illegally, they should not be able to get any benefits.

PERRY: Well, I disagree with the concept that somehow or other we're going to pack up 10 to 12 to 15 million people and ship them back to the country of origin. That's not going to happen. So we need to have -- reality has to be part of our conversation, and then you need to have a strategy to deal with it.

And that is what I think we will have, but first you have to secure that border. If you do not secure the border then there's no use in having conversations about how are you going to deal with these individuals. 

John King, USA

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