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Interviews with Govs. Jan Brewer and Rick Perry

Interviews with Govs. Jan Brewer and Rick Perry

By John King, USA - February 22, 2012

KING: There's a lot at stake for the candidates in tonight's debate including Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's endorsement. The governor says she's held out on picking a candidate because she wants to see how they perform tonight, right here on her home turf. So what's it going to take to get the nod from this state's Republican governor?

Governor Brewer joins me here in Mesa.

What are you looking for?

GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: Well, I'm looking for someone to come out and be very decisive and very concise in exactly what they mean when they say what they're going to do about all the issues we've been on the forefront on.

KING: 8. 7 percent unemployment rate here in your state, third in the nation when it comes to the foreclosure problem. Have the candidates so far, whether it be Congressman Paul, Governor Romney, Senator Santorum, Speaker Gingrich, have they talked in enough detail for you on those issues to makes you comfortable?

BREWER: No.

KING: What's missing?

BREWER: Well, I want some concrete answers about what they're going to do. Are we going to continue to bailout of the mortgage companies and the banks? What is it that we're going to do? I think it really actually comes back to jobs and the economy.

We need to have less regulation, we need them to be inspirational, to give us the tools in which the states can work in order to increase our economy. And that's what we want to hear tonight, we want to hear about that and we want to hear, of course, about states' rights, something that's very, very important.

We as governors, whether we're Republican or Democrat, we really believe that we know what's best for our people. And in Arizona, and particularly we're very interested about natural resources. Arizona, our beautiful state, was built on mining.

Copper is huge here, and now uranium. And then we have the federal government coming in, writing all these rules and regulations and telling us that we can't do this and we can't do that. We need concise, clear answers.

KING: As you know, this state has drawn a lot of national attention in driving some of the immigration politics in the country, your state immigration law quite controversial. You've had it back and forth with the president about this issue.

Within the Republican Party, all of these candidates say they support the right of Arizona to have its own law, and Alabama and other states that have followed and copied suit. There are some Republicans, though, Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida; Marco Rubio, the new freshman senator from Florida, who say be careful.

Even as you talk about these issues, be careful about the tone, because the fast-growing Latino population could be turned off. You have that population here in this state. What's the challenge for the Republican Party to be right on the issue but not put-offish, if you will, in the rhetoric?

BREWER: Well, I think it's real important that people understand, first and foremost, those of us that have lived in Arizona or in southern California, we have a very diverse population. The Hispanic population has been part of all of our lives since we've been born here or since we've grown up here. So it's not about race and it's not about bigotry, it's all about the rule of law.

And it is against the law to come into our state illegally. But more than that is that we need our border secured. The simple fact is that the drug cartels are coming in through Arizona. Arizona is the gateway for all the narcotics and the crime that is connected with it.

They kidnap people that are coming across illegally, they take them to drop houses. They extort money from their families in Mexico. They torture them. And they talk about civil rights. And they're right in our neighborhoods and our people in the southern border are afraid to go to sleep at night on their ranches.

KING: After the debate tonight there'll be just a handful of days until the people of your state finish voting. Some might have voted early already. Will you endorse tonight after the debate? Will you wait a day or two to think about it? BREWER: You know, actually I don't know. If I'm totally convinced tonight, I might announce tonight. But I think I would like to give it a couple of days and think about just exactly what they really have said and digest it and make that announcement, of course, before our primary on the 28th.

KING: We'll check in with you after the debate tonight. We'll see what you're thinking. Governor Brewer...

BREWER: Thank you.

KING: ... thank you for your time again. It's nice for in your state. Thanks for the beautiful weather.

Coming up here: Rick Perry knows better than anyone the hits and misses of a debate performance. He tells us what his candidate now, Newt Gingrich, needs to do tonight to win.

Plus, tweeting your way into heaven. The pope gives good lessons on being a Catholic in 140 characters or less.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's continue our conversation about the big stage in tonight's debate with a man who knows what it's like to be up there on the Republican presidential debate stage. The one-time candidate, the former Texas governor Rick Perry, now a Gingrich supporter.

Governor, it's good to see you.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: It's good to be with you.

KING: Speaker Gingrich has not disappeared, but he's fallen a bit. He was -- after South Carolina he was the frontrunner. That's when Governor Perry got out of the race. Senator Santorum has the momentum at the moment. And you know the dynamic of the race. You were trying to take that spot and you had it for a while, to be the alternative to Mitt Romney. How has Senator Santorum taken that trophy away from your guy?

PERRY: Let me just say that we've had a lot of frontrunners in this race, and we may have two or three more frontrunners before August gets here. It won't surprise me for this to go all the way to the convention.

But Newt's the -- I tell people Newt's the real deal. He's the real fiscal conservative. He's the real social conservative. He's the real Tenth Amendment-believing and breathing individual on the stage. And each one of the other candidates, whether it's on the military side or whether it's on the fiscal conservative side or whether it's on the social issues side, the other candidates can be and are being picked apart a little bit by the Republican faithful out there.

So Newt has been always and will continue to be the individual who, from a fiscal conservative standpoint, the person who's balanced budgets. I mean, when you really get down to what is it that's facing America that most Americans are gravely concerned about, is they don't have a job. Is that they've got family members that are either underemployed or unemployed. And so getting this country back on track from an economic standpoint. And Newt's done it before; he's balanced the budgets. And I think that's the real driving force for people out there.

KING: Some people say he hurt himself in the two Florida debates where he tried to say above it all. He tried to be big, and the other candidates sort of outmaneuvered him. But does he need to be more feisty? Does he need to pick a few direct fights with the other candidates? What's your advice?

PERRY: I think he can be both Churchillian and point out the differences that he's got in the candidates. I think he's got that great trait and ability to do it.

But listen, when you -- when you take as much water on as he did with the negative ads that came out of Florida, it's going to beat you down. He didn't have the ability nor the money -- we'll just say he didn't have the money. Certainly has the ability to fight back.

But when you have that much money spent against you it's going to make a difference. And I think that's what happened post-South Carolina.

So I full well expect for him to be out on the stage tonight, being feisty when he needs to be but also being very Churchillian when he stands there, intellectually engaged in talking about, you know, the big issues and then really getting down in the weeds if that's what he needs to do to bring the point home.

KING: You said we could have two or three more frontrunners. That means either Congressman Paul takes it over or somebody else. Why is that? Normally in Republican races we know by now. But you have a party that seems to be having an internal tug-of-war. Some call it a civil war about what issues should be at the forefront. It's not just about the who, who should lead the party? But it's about what should be first? What's going on in the Republican Party?

PERRY: Well, I think 20 debates is part of what's going on in the Republican Party. I mean, the idea -- that's history. You all have changed the dynamic for the presidential election. So that's part of it.

But also I think that the -- you know, the candidates are talking about the issues that are important to them. And I go back to it's about the economy. Every Republican -- yes, social issues is important, the military is important. All of these other issues are important. But when we talk to people across this country, it's about the economy. And it's about who has the plan that can put America back on track? Who knows how to work in that shark tank up there?

KING: But if we keep -- if we keep going from frontrunner to frontrunner to frontrunner, that means nobody has convinced the Republican electorate yet they're that guy convincingly. Am I right?

PERRY: I think you're probably pretty close to being spot on from the standpoint of if we were, this thing would be over with. I mean, if there was one individual that came forward and said, "Hey, listen, this is the person that can beat Barack Obama. This is the person who gets this country back going." I happen to think it's Newt Gingrich. I'm pretty convinced of that. But the fact is, the bulk of the Republican people out there aren't convinced of it yet.

KING: You'll have a different perspective on tonight's debate. I look forward to catching up with you afterwards. Good to see you again. Thank you, sir. 

John King, USA

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