Interviews

Help Wanted: Rick Perry on Economy, 2012

Exclusive: Texas governor on job growth, political future

 

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: All right, don’t mess with Texas, because, over the past two years, more than 200,000 jobs have been added under one Governor Rick Perry’s watch. That is more than any other state, as companies flee high-tax states. So, what’s exactly his secret?

The second installment of our special "Help Wanted" series, it begins -- well, it begins right now.

And we’ve got the governor himself, Republican Governor Rick Perry.

Governor, good to see you in the flesh.

GOV. RICK PERRY, R-TEXAS: It’s good to be with you, right here in front of you.

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CAVUTO: You are speaking at a big din-din tonight, the Lincoln Day Manhattan dinner, for want of a better term. Donald Trump was originally supposed to speak to this group. Methinks that they think you’re the guy running for something else.

PERRY: Well, we are happy to get to fill in for the Donald. So, we’ll have fun and share with woman about what we are doing in Texas and why they need to pick up and come on down to Texas if they want to live in the land of the free and the -- a great opportunity down there.

CAVUTO: Yes, but, Governor, they have not searched this far for a speaker since maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger.

PERRY: Yes.

CAVUTO: And there was no way he could run for president.

PERRY: Right.

CAVUTO: So, they have -- they have -- they sought out Texas.

PERRY: Yes.

CAVUTO: What do you think that means?

PERRY: I think it’s the right thing for them to do to pick a governor of a state that’s got a great story to tell.

When you look at what we have done, seriously, on the job creation side -- you said in your opening, what’s the secret? And the fact is it’s really not a secret. It’s pretty simple. You keep those taxes low and the regulatory climate fair and balanced, predictable, regulatory -- or I should say a legal system that doesn’t allow for over-suing.

We passed loser-pay in this last session of the legislature to add to our rather substantial legal protections, if you will, from frivolous lawsuits. And a skilled work force...

CAVUTO: By the way, you mentioned that frivolous lawsuit thing. It got me thinking, there are these ads, Governor, running in, of all places, New Hampshire, Americans for Job Security putting them out.

They’re done by a guy who has close ties to Dave Carney, who was one of Newt Gingrich’s top advisers, I guess, before he quit.

And they talk about your own crackdown on frivolous lawsuits and the like where the loser pays, stuff like that.

PERRY: Yes.

CAVUTO: That’s odd.

PERRY: It’s a great message.

CAVUTO: Yes. It’s in New Hampshire.

PERRY: It -- well, the 50 states, in our opinion, are where the laboratories of innovation should be. You know, in my book "Fed Up"...

CAVUTO: But did you know he was doing that?

PERRY: I didn’t.

CAVUTO: Really?

PERRY: But that’s OK. We like to brag about what’s going on in Texas. We like to talk about, how does your state match up against the state of Texas when it comes to things like taxes and regulations, litigation?

So, hopefully, in New Hampshire, they’ll get the message. And...

CAVUTO: Well, they are. They get high Q-score reaction.

And I’m wondering, with all this talk about former Gingrich strategists who are looking at you, trying to help you, either directly or behind the scenes, whether that’s as clear a sign as any you’re running for president.

PERRY: Yes, I think it’s a clear sign that I’m certainly giving it an appropriate thought process.

Six weeks ago, this was not on my radar screen. I love being the governor of Texas. And we have done a fabulous job, I think, in that state from the standpoint working with our legislature, our lieutenant governor and our speaker, to...

CAVUTO: But what change in six weeks can move you closer?

PERRY: You know, it was a number of conversations that were had with people I trust, including my wife that basically said, listen, our country is in trouble, and you need to give this a second thought.

CAVUTO: So, when you looked at the debate of participants as they stand right now, last night, did you have a chance to see that and say, gee, I could beat -- I could beat those guys?

PERRY: Well, actually, I was watching the Texas Aggies beat Florida State in baseball to go to the College World Series. But the fact is I have...

CAVUTO: Did you see -- did you see any of the clips?

PERRY: I know what happens in debates. And I’ve been in my fair share of debates. So I don’t think there was any new ground plowed there.

CAVUTO: What would it take for you to join the race, though? If you’re thinking about it, more seriously, what would put you over the edge?

PERRY: Well, it’s just a thought process that I think I need to go through as an individual, realizing the cost, both physically, mentally, and what this does to me, my family and what have you.

We’ll go through that, give it the appropriate thought. And we have some time.

CAVUTO: Do you, really? How much time do you think?

PERRY: Oh, I don’t know.

CAVUTO: A month?

PERRY: I’m not sure that you have to make a decision in a month.

CAVUTO: Right.

(CROSSTALK) PERRY: It’s a...

CAVUTO: You could push it to when?

PERRY: It’s a pretty fast world out there we live in today. So, again, we’re giving it the appropriate thought process. And I’d hate to be pointing to a time specific, even if we decide to get in.

CAVUTO: You know, the reason why I ask you is that reading the press within your fine state, and then outside, you have kind of like a Chris Christie phenomena, very popular outside your state, still popular, but not nearly as popular, within your state.

And there are even Tea Party groups within your state who like you, but don’t love you, who say that, when it comes to things like not spending a rainy day fund, an idea you came up with...

PERRY: Right.

CAVUTO: ... you say one thing, and do another.

What do you say?

PERRY: I say that a prophet is generally not loved in their hometown. That’s both biblical and practical.

So, you know, we’ve been around for 10 years as the governor. I’m sure there are some folks who have been rubbed the wrong way, but the fact is, the results are pretty hard to argue. We created more jobs than any other state in the nation over the last decade. Population keeps growing. We’re adding four congressional seats to the state of Texas.

CAVUTO: But if you didn’t have the oil industry, Governor...

PERRY: Ah.

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: ... would you be as -- well, I mean, certainly -- and I think we were showing all the logos of the companies that have come to your state...

PERRY: Right. Right.

CAVUTO: ... that have nothing to do with oil. But oil is a very big employer in your state.

PERRY: Wouldn’t trade it for anything.

But when you look at the percentage of our gross domestic product from 1984 vs. today, they are almost identical from the oil and gas industry. So, we have really grown as a manufacturing state. Who would have thought? Two weeks ago, we announced that GE is going to be building locomotives in the state of Texas?

We have Toyota building the Tundra. I mean, the manufacturing side of what’s happened in Texas, not to mention the medical technology business, has exploded, and we were pleased to have a fellow by the name of Michael Dell be born there.

CAVUTO: Well, I think your biggest coup was getting Carl’s Jr., right?

PERRY: We love...

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: How did you entice a burger guy away?

PERRY: Freedom. Freedom.

CAVUTO: They left California, right? Yes.

PERRY: They love the smell of freedom, freedom from over-taxation, freedom from over-litigation.

CAVUTO: Did you personally -- in the case of these companies, personally try to woo them?

PERRY: Oh, yes, we talked to them personally. We went to California and sat down with them. As a matter of fact, I was in...

CAVUTO: You went yourself to California?

PERRY: Oh, yes, sir. I go to California rather often. I was there Sunday, and I was doing an event.

CAVUTO: So, you’re stealing companies’ right at the belly of the beast?

PERRY: Absolutely. That is what the 10th Amendment’s all about, competition.

(LAUGHTER) PERRY: Rick Scott, who is a great governor in Florida, Rick and I are always in competition. He talked about Texas that he was going to go and get back the jobs that they had lost to Texas in his inaugural address.

CAVUTO: Right. It’s a friendly rivalry.

PERRY: Now, this last week, with the Mavs beating the Heat, he’s kind of his tail between his legs.

CAVUTO: You let it move on.

All right, Governor, we’re going to take -- I do want to pick your brain a little bit on what is going down in South Carolina, more to the point in a Seattle courtroom...

PERRY: Right.

CAVUTO: ... to decide whether Boeing has to make those workers unionized or fire them all.

PERRY: Yes.

CAVUTO: We’re going to touch on that.

More with Governor Rick Perry exclusively. You are watching Fox.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: All right, continuing with that gentleman there who is the governor of Texas, longest serving governor in the country right now. And many Republicans want him to throw his hat into the ring and run for president.

As he indicated a little earlier, he hasn’t made any firm decision, maybe closer to it.

But an issue that anyone who wants to be president has to deal with is still jobs. Two-and-a-half years in, still not a whole lot of progress on that front, the president saying that he’s going to be picking a panel to look into this again. A lot frustrations that it’s slow. And now this NLRB effort in South Carolina to stop Boeing from hiring 1,000 non-union workers there.

What would you do if you were president facing that?

PERRY: Well, let me just -- the juxtaposition here of this president, who gets out and says one thing, but, then, his administration does another, whether it’s the EPA coming into Texas and trying to shut down our refining industry, if you will, whether it’s his Interior Department coming in and trying to use a little lizard out in West Texas to shut down the exploration business in the Permian Basin.

CAVUTO: By the way, that lizard’s going to win, right?

PERRY: This administration...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: The lizard could win.

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: If it’s an endangered species, hold all rigs.

PERRY: The lizard could win.

And you just have a president who I think is anti-job. And I have no idea why. When you look at the National Labor Relations Board coming in to a sovereign state and basically saying, you cannot bring this company into this state, because we, in Washington, D.C., don’t like that you are a right-to-work state, that is one of the great prostitutions of the United States Constitution -- United States Constitution ever.

CAVUTO: If they were to succeed, do you fear that, if the unions were to win, NLRB wins, do you think companies across the country would be more inclined to hire abroad than to deal with it...

(CROSSTALK) PERRY: Well, sure. That’s the message that is going to be loud and clear here, is that we have -- if a state wants to make the decision that they want to be union-friendly, that they want to allow for the unions to participate in their state -- and we have unions, and work well with the unions in the state, whether it is the Teamsters union -- we have a host of unions that we work well with.

But when you have those individuals in Washington who, for whatever reason politically, decide that they’re going to force you in your state to take these types of unionized jobs and this type of a labor relationship, again, that is so far outside of our founding fathers’ dreams. And I will suggest to you, if this doesn’t get stopped, then the jobs are going to be created offshore, and America will be even weaker.

CAVUTO: I want to switch to political issues of late, talk that Anthony Weiner could be very close to resigning his position, maybe come up with a deal, strike some sort of an agreement, but that he could just be a few days from resigning. No one knows.

Do you think he should?

PERRY: I don’t have any idea. That is between he and his wife and he and the Democrat Party.

That’s – I’ll be real honest with you -- obviously, a sick fellow who made some really bad decisions. And if he has a sickness of that depth and of that breadth, stepping down might be the best thing for him from a personal standpoint. I’m sure his friends on the Democrat side would like for this to go away, and go away soon.

CAVUTO: Should there be higher standards for those in elected office?

PERRY: Well, I think we are held to a higher standard.

I don’t think there’s a matter of should you be. I think you are held to a higher standard.

CAVUTO: Well, I don’t know about that, because Charlie Rangel survived what, in almost anyone’s private life, would have been criminality and maybe jail time. And this guy could survive quite nicely.

So, I don’t know whether there is that standard.

PERRY: Well, I happen to think we are. I think we are held to a higher standard.

CAVUTO: So if you became president, and had a Cabinet member doing something that, let’s say, wasn’t morally or ethically right, but legally not an issue, what would you do?

PERRY: I’d most likely ask them to step down, no questions asked, other than, here are the rules. You’ve broken the rules. And, therefore...

CAVUTO: But there are no rules that say you can’t be...

PERRY: Yes, there are. Yes, there are rules.

CAVUTO: ... hitting on people online.

PERRY: Yes, there are rules. There are rules like that.

And we have moral rules that we live with every day. We have rules of conduct every day. It’s like that old definition of pornography: I know it when I see it. And...

CAVUTO: So, you saw some of the Weiner stuff, and you think that entered that category?

PERRY: I would suggest to you that was inappropriate.

And he’s going to have to make a decision about his wife. I would suggest that’s probably the biggest influence it’s going to have on him.

CAVUTO: Newt Gingrich and his whole staff abandoning him, many to you, what happened? What do you think of that?

PERRY: I don’t have any idea, other than what I read in the paper.

I have got great respect for Newt. And I think he’s a very bright and capable individual. He wrote the foreword of my book "Fed Up."

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: Do you think he still would have done it if he knew that his people were going to dump him and run to you?

PERRY: Oh, yes. I don’t think he has any -- any bad feelings about me at all. So, that’s just life. And those were some individuals who felt like the campaign was going in a direction that they couldn’t support.

CAVUTO: Yes.

PERRY: And, frankly, that is the right thing to do, is to...

CAVUTO: You know they apparently turned on his wife. So, I don’t about your marriage or your wife, nor should I, but is it a team effort when you run? You’ve run for governor many times.

PERRY: Oh, sure, absolutely.

CAVUTO: That, if the staff has a problem with the spouse, it’s rough.

PERRY: Yes. I tend to agree.

CAVUTO: That’s a very nice answer.

Stepping back, Governor, is it your sense that Republicans risk tripping over themselves with who can offer the biggest tax cut, the biggest capital gains relief? In other words, I asked Herman Cain this earlier in the show. Is there a danger that you can overdo it?

PERRY: Well, there’s a lot that needs to be undone before you overdo something.

The idea that getting the spending under control -- of the four principles I live by and I govern by, keep the taxes as low as possible, have a regulatory climate that’s fair and predictable...

CAVUTO: Well, you don’t have a state income tax...

PERRY: But the spending side of it...

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: ... low corporate tax.

But I’m just wondering, is -- they are all aggressively trying to cut spending. They all say that. But when they cut taxes to the bone, everyone welcomes that, but is there a level at which a Rick Perry would say, you don’t want a top rate lower than 25 percent, or...

PERRY: Oh, I don’t what the -- I don’t what the rate is. We obviously have a tax...

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: The lowest top rate mentioned right now is Tim Pawlenty’s 25 percent plan.

PERRY: We have a -- we have a spending problem in this country and a tax structure problem. We’re putting way too much burden on job creators with taxes, with regulation, with litigation.

All three of those are the key to getting our economy back on track. You reduce the taxes as much as you can, while you continue to deliver the services that are demanded by the population out there. But, again...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: So, you don’t have a hard -- you don’t have a hard number on it?

PERRY: I don’t have a hard number.

CAVUTO: So, 25 percent might not be too low or too high. It’s just...

PERRY: It might not be.

CAVUTO: OK.

CAVUTO: Real quickly, Marco Rubio making his first statements on the floor of the Senate today. He’s a rising star in the Republican Party, many say, in the Hispanic community. You do very well with Hispanic voters in your state. It’s always tough for Republicans period. It’s a bit of an even draw there. Are they the crucial bloc Republicans have to win over?

PERRY: Well, they’re obviously a very important part of the future of America.

My brother-in-law is Hispanic. And Texas has a growing Hispanic population.

CAVUTO: Is that a big draw in your case?

PERRY: It is, absolutely. It’s very important. Mexico is our number-one trading partner in Texas.

So, the idea that, somehow or another, you would write off that segment or would do things to cause harm to them from a voting bloc is just -- it’s off the table.

CAVUTO: Because fairly or not, Governor, the rap against Republicans is that their hard stance on illegal immigration has been portrayed in the mainstream media as just anti-immigration.

PERRY: Yes.

CAVUTO: And we know that’s – that’s silly.

PERRY: Right.

CAVUTO: But I guess what I am asking you is, do you have to make more overtures to the Hispanic community to assure them that is not the case?

PERRY: I think the Hispanic population in the country is no different from the Anglo population or the Asian population. They want to live in a state where they can be free from over-taxation, over-litigation. They want to able to have good schools for their kids and have a wide-open future. That’s what the Republican Party is all about.

CAVUTO: And what you will do if you were president?

PERRY: It would be.

CAVUTO: OK.

Rick Perry, the governor.

Well, we tried it in a variety of ways, but you never know. You never know.

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