This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," August 20, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," who is Rick Perry? We'll take a closer look at the record of the three-term Texas governor and now top-tier presidential candidate.
Plus, if the GOP primary field is finally set, why are so many big donors sitting on the sidelines? Is there room for one or two more in the race?
And Obama's Midwest tour. The president visits three states he won handily in 2008. Why it won't be so easy this time around.
Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report," I'm Paul Gigot.
First up this week, who is Rick Perry? The three-term Texas governor jumped into the GOP presidential race last weekend and quickly established himself as a front-runner. And those 10 years in the governor's mansion, they've given his critics plenty to dislike, supporters plenty to like, and Texas insiders plenty to fight about.
Here to sort it all out, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman; and editorial board member, Jason Riley.
So, Dan, the Texas governor got in, saying, looking -- look at my jobs record. I can bring this Texas record to Washington, to the rest of the country. The left is saying it's all a mirage. Sort it out for us. Who is right?
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Well, I think Governor Perry gets the best of this one, Paul. In June, the net job increase over the last 24 months in Texas was about 261,700 jobs, which is about half of the new jobs created in the United States over that period. Now, the criticism is, there are some of them are mac (ph) and not great jobs or so forth.
GIGOT: Or a lot are in energy.
HENNINGER: A lot of them are in energy.
GIGOT: Or you'd expect Texas to grow because, hey, the population is growing.
HENNINGER: That's the point.
In the last 10 years, the Texas population increased 21 percent, whereas New York, which also has a low unemployment rate, has been losing hundreds, tens of thousands of people over that time. So, New York has the greatest welfare system in the United States. Texas is criticized for its social services, but people are pouring into Texas for jobs. So if the issue right now, at this point in the campaign is, can I get a job, then I think Rick Perry has a pretty good story to tell.
JASON RILEY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Yes, and this argument that this job growth has nothing to do with the tax or regulatory structure in place in Texas that Perry helped to create and preserve is ridiculous.
GIGOT: What are the secrets of that success? No income tax. That's one thing.
RILEY: No income tax and low regulation. And it's encouraging businesses to move there and it's encouraging people from other parts of the country to move there.
GIGOT: What about tort reform. Perry points to that and says, look, we've got lawsuit reform the rest of the country could use.
RILEY: That adds to the business climate, a favorable business climate. And as -- and an unemployment rate below the national average.
GIGOT: They put a cap on damages, pain and suffering damages.
RILEY: Medical malpractice.
GIGOT: Medical malpractice. And 26,000 --
HENNINGER: And Haley Barber, of Mississippi, told Rick Perry, if you pass that tort reform, you are going to have to --
GIGOT: User pays.
HENNINGER: You're going to have to put a turnstile in front of Texas --
RILEY: And all of these jobs --
HENNINGER: -- people roaring into the state.
HENNINGER: And they passed it.
RILEY: And all of the jobs are not in the oil and gas industry. Almost a third, 31 percent, are in health care.
GIGOT: And the loser pays. If you sue and lose your case, you have to pay the court costs --
GIGOT: -- of the people you sued, which is the British system. And is -- it's a major, major reform.
So, what are Perry's other strengths as a candidate, James?
JAMES FREEMAN, ASSISTANT EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Well, I think you saw some exuberance. People might say a little bit of an over-the-top campaigner, but this is a guy who's done this a lot. He's never lost an election. He's been in office 11 years. He campaigns hard and effectively. He knows how to do, the give and take with the crowds as he moves through a state fair, this kind of setting. So, I think you're seeing a first-tier candidate in terms of experience, in terms of running a big state.