OTR Interviews

Texas Gov. Perry: How Many More Americans Have to Die in Mexico Because Our Government Has 'Absolutely Failed'?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 2, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Governor Rick Perry of Texas is here. Last night he spoke with Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin.


VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, nice to see you, sir.

GOV. RICK PERRY, R-TEXAS: Greta, it's good to be with you. Thank you very much.

VAN SUSTEREN: As head of the Republican governors association, the governors association has come out in support of Governor Walker in Wisconsin. What is your advice for him? How does he get those 14 Democrats home?

PERRY: I talked to Scott last night. He is very focused, very disciplined. That's the key for him. He's standing on principle. He's asking the people of Wisconsin, including those union members, to tighten their belts just like people around the dinner table are doing, the small businessmen and women are having to tighten their belts. He's asking those union members, those state employees to do their part as well so the Wisconsin economy can become stronger as we go into the future by not having that burden of excessive spending that's been going on.

So Scott is going to stay strong. Hopefully the Democrat senators will come back. I suspect just like in Texas, they held their hand up and promised to defend the constitutional laws of the United States and of their state. Part of that is being on-the-job voting.

VAN SUSTEREN: One of the problems he has, and I'm not so sure if he's going to get the people on his side. It seems like he's losing popularity. What the teachers has done is said we will pay into the pension, into health care, we just don't want to give up collective bargaining. And you have the exempted firefighters who are very popular in any state coming out supporting the teachers against the governor.

PERRY: Leadership isn't always about popularity. That's one of the person messages that you will hear out of Scott is that this is about leadership. If a state is verging on being in the tank, if you will, economically, then a leader has to stand up and say we're not going to these dollars.

And I can't for the life of me believe that the union members want Wisconsin to go bankrupt. They don't want to see a state that is a failed state from the stand economically. So hopefully they will come to the table and negotiate appropriately. And you can't negotiate when you are not there, though. Those senators need to come home, do their constitutional duty.

VAN SUSTEREN: I imagine you would love to be at the meeting in Washington between President Obama and President Calderon of Mexico who is going to be in town shortly talking about issues between our two countries, Mexico and the United States. At the same time, the Texas department of public safety has warned college students to avoid Mexico hot spots during spring break. If you could be at that meeting between the two presidents, what would you say?

PERRY: I would dearly love to be there to sit down with those two leaders and share with them what -- neither one of them have been on the border to see what is happening to the citizens of Mexico, and for that matter the citizens of Texas.

We've had too many Americans killed in Mexico already. The latest, Jaime Zapata the ICE agent, a missionary two weeks before that from Texas, 34,000 Mexicans have been killed directly attributable to these drug cartels since 2007.

I cannot for the life of me not understand why President Calderon wouldn't have a hand of friendship and relationship out to president Obama asking him to help. I think it is going to take the type of effort that we had in Colombia to defeat these cartels in Mexico. We cannot afford to have Mexico become a failed narco-state. This is devastating.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is the problem between these two presidents is it they don't get it or we are exaggerating the problem or that it is an impossible problem or they are unwilling before they have other considerations?

I see the numbers. I see the ICE agent murdered February 15th and the missionary before that and all the beheadings. What seems to be the problem? Why can't these two leaders get progress?

PERRY: Greta, it is not impossible. What it takes is trust. Mexico has historically really pushed become when it came to having the United States operatives, our military, et cetera, coming on to their sovereign land. A good start would be to put 1,000 National Guard troops on the border that I've asked for since January of 2009.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of law enforcement to the extent we have any partnership in Mexico, our law enforcement are not armed or can't be armed in Mexico. So they're somewhat like sitting ducks. If it is getting the National Guard there, what is the hold up?

PERRY: The problem is the Department of Homeland Security has refused to address that issue. I've asked Secretary Napolitano numerous times. We've had a letter of request. As a matter of fact, President Obama was in Texas, I handed him a letter on the tarmac last fall asking specifically to address this issue.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why don't they do it? They don't want to? There's got to be -- it certainly is a war down there. What is the explanation?

PERRY: I'm as frustrated as you are. It is beyond me. How many more Americans are going to have to lose their lives? How many more Mexicans are going to be intimidated and murdered until these two governments come together in a cooperative way?

There is absolutely no reason that Mexico and the United States -- we have been doing business with each other, we marry each other. They are our number one trading partner. For Texas it is not just about the safety of our citizens. It is also about a very important trading partner that we must help defend against these thugs, these terrorists. They are just as terrible as Al Qaeda and the acts that we are seeing against the citizens of Mexico and in some cases the United States.

VAN SUSTEREN: If something horrific is exported from that country to this country there's going to be a lot of blood on hands there's a lot of notice. People are not stepping up to the plate.

PERRY: You are absolutely right, Greta. As I asked this last week while we with this Washington, how many more Americans have to die? How many more of our friends, our neighbors, our loved ones have to die on that border or in Mexico because our government has absolutely failed?