Is Rick Perry Being Attacked Because of His Faith?

O'Reilly and Huckabee debate reason for attacks


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 14, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight. We were hoping, hoping to bring you Rick Perry this evening, but the governor could not work it out. This morning Perry did a round of media in which he defended his wife who said yesterday that he is being attacked because of his Christianity.


RICK PERRY, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, families always take these elections probably as tough as anybody. My wife said two things yesterday. She said he is the most conservative candidate in the race and he is a Christian, and I can't argue with either one of those facts.


O'REILLY: With us now to analyze, Fox News guy and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Perry is like you. He is a lot like you were four years ago when you were doing this.

MIKE HUCKABEE, FOX NEWS HOST: No. He started at the top, Bill. I started at the bottom. There is a great big difference.

O'REILLY: Well, you were pretty successful in Arkansas.

HUCKABEE: Yeah, we had a good run. Ten and a half years.

O'REILLY: Yes, I wouldn't -- I wouldn't put it that way. But you know what I'm talking about. You identified very, very early that you were a Christian man. You know, a preacher in some sense. And -- and Perry has been in that category as well. So Perry's wife says well, that's one of the reasons his poll numbers are coming down because he's getting hammered. Any validity to that?

HUCKABEE: No. I don't think so. Rick Perry's numbers are down because his debate performances have been extremely less than spectacular, and I'm being charitable.

O'REILLY: So why does his wife think it has to do with Christianity?

HUCKABEE: Well, I think any time you're the family of the candidate, it hurts when you see things not going well, and Rick Perry started at the top. He went in and the day he announced he was riding the top of the polls and he's plummeted since then. But his repeat debate performances and the fact that he has not been able to find his footing on some key issues is just made people start looking elsewhere. I have been in Texas three different times this week and the interesting thing was that the buzz was not about their governor. The buzz was about Herman Cain.

O'REILLY: But the reason that I think -- and I said this yesterday -- that Perry has imploded is because of illegal immigration.

HUCKABEE: Well that's a big factor.

O'REILLY: That's a huge issue.

HUCKABEE: It's how he handled the debates and then what he said on illegal immigration, which is not the orthodoxy of the Republican Party right now.

O'REILLY: Well, the conservatives. The conservative Republicans when you don't support the border fence and when you are legislating to give illegal alien tuition, in-state tuition; it comes out of the taxpayers' pocket.

HUCKABEE: And the HPV issue, Bill, was another one.

O'REILLY: I don't think that was big, with all due respect, governor. I could be wrong on this.

HUCKABEE: I think you are -- I think you are on this one because it really offended parents. Parents look at that and say why would the governor make my child do it and demand that I have to opt out rather than simply say it's available and if you want it you can opt in. I do think that was a factor.

O'REILLY: OK, do you really think that rises to the level of illegal immigration?

HUCKABEE: No. It's not the same.

O'REILLY: Right.

HUCKABEE: But the cumulative impact of all of these things give people a second look at Rick Perry and they say well, I thought he was this but he's not and so therefore they are still shopping.

O'REILLY: All right. So you don't think it has anything to do with his Christianity?

HUCKABEE: No, I don't think so at all.

O'REILLY: Nothing at all, OK.

HUCKABEE: No, I think in fact, that's a plus for Perry. He has an opportunity to reach into that evangelical base, which is about 40 percent of the Republican primary voters.

O'REILLY: Now, the problems that Herman Cain -- you mentioned Mr. Cain -- is going to run into is fundraising.


O'REILLY: Reports today that he's less than a million dollars in the till. Organization.


O'REILLY: OK. Now and -- and also the perception that he is an ideological candidate, not a mainstream candidate. So it's a -- isn't it a big difference, governor? I want you to explain that to the folks -- running in a primary like Iowa, which you won…


O'REILLY: …all right, and then running a general election campaign is two different audiences.

HUCKABEE: But Herman Cain does have the advantage that he talks the language of people who understand that he's talking to them and he's talking for them.

O'REILLY: He's a good communicator.

HUCKABEE: He's great communicator.

O'REILLY: Right, right, sure.

HUCKABEE: And he's winsome and he's likable.

O'REILLY: Winsome?

HUCKABEE: That could be your word of the day.

O'REILLY: That is a good -- but that's a positive word.

HUCKABEE: It's a great word.

O'REILLY: Yes, we usually have it. So, winsome, you want to define it for the folks.

HUCKABEE: Winsome means that you're appealing, that you are a person who has an attractive and pleasant personality.

O'REILLY: Charismatic in a sense?

HUCKABEE: It could be very charismatic.

O'REILLY: All right. So that's what Herman Cain has going for him. What he has against him is no legislative experience. He doesn't know anything about foreign affairs by his own admission. And then says well, I'm going to get my advisers around me, which is exactly what Barack Obama did with the economy. With all due respect to the president, he doesn't know anything about economics.

HUCKABEE: But the difference is Herman Cain has run something successfully. He has run several corporations and he took them from failure to success. Barack Obama has never run a lemonade stand. He has never had a hot dog cart on Sixth Avenue.

O'REILLY: No I know, but there is a difference in subject matter. But there are no Godfather Pizzas in Saudi Arabia. You can't get one.

HUCKABEE: There should be.

O'REILLY: That might be a good franchise for you, governor.

HUCKABEE: It might be a big thing there if they ever tried it.

O'REILLY: All right. Now, I don't want to harp on this because we do want to get Governor Perry on the program and -- but I -- I'm mystified. I don't know whether you remember this. But I chased you down at a Holiday Inn or something. It wasn't even a Holiday Inn. Holiday Inn Express in New Hampshire when you were up there. And you were more than happy. Oh, Bill, let's sit down. You gave me all the time I needed.

HUCKABEE: Look, I begged for opportunities to be on your show for the simple reason that if you want to talk to voters in the Republican primary…

O'REILLY: Six million people watch it.

HUCKABEE: …you do O'Reilly. You do Fox News.

O'REILLY: Right. So what in God's name is happening with the Perry campaign where they will do these little shows, with all due respect, and we can't get him? I mean, I love you as a guest but he should be sitting here tonight or on a bird someplace.

HUCKABEE: Well, I'm glad he didn't because it gave me the opportunity to be here.

O'REILLY: OK, but why isn't he coming in?

HUCKABEE: I think he knows that you are not going to let him off easy. You're not going to throw him softballs. You've always been fair but you're tough. And it doesn't matter whether it's Barack Obama or Mike Huckabee or anybody else.

O'REILLY: But should -- but he's been on the program before, Perry, and he has done fairly well. I don't understand this. He can handle it.

HUCKABEE: Well, but it's different when you run for president. And one of the things that I think he is experiencing -- and it's not about religion -- it's about the fact that running for president is like sticking your face in the blade of a fan.

O'REILLY: Sticking your face in the blade of a fan.

HUCKABEE: Don't try that at home.

O'REILLY: That's not winsome.

HUCKABEE: It is not winsome, and it's not pretty.


HUCKABEE: But, folks, running for president is not a chess game. It is a full-contact sport played without pads. And I think it's a tough experience for a lot of people when they first get out there.

O'REILLY: All right. Well, we hope the governor comes on in. And thank you, governor. I'm going to give you a little plug now. Governor Huckabee has a good tip for you parents and grandparents. He has -- he and his crews have put together a series of historical DVDs for kids. They are great, and you can check them out on

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