Did Obama's State of the Union fall flat on immigration?

Exclusive interview with former Texas Gov. Perry


This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," January 21, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We can't put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street or re-fighting past battles on immigration when we got to fix a broken system.


MEGYN KELLY, HOST: That was President Obama in last night's State of the Union address.

For months leading up to last night, the country was rocked by the national debate over immigration policy. But last night, just two brief passing mentions.

Earlier in a "Kelly File" exclusive, I spoke to former GOP presidential candidate and now former border state governor Rick Perry of Texas in his first TV interview since leaving office.


KELLY: Governor, great to see you.

RICK PERRY, FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: It is good to be with you. Thank you.

KELLY: So let's start with that, with the comment on immigration. Do you think that the Republicans should move to undo the president's executive action?

PERRY: Yes. And I invited the president to come down to the border and take a look at what was going on last spring, and of course, he turned me down. He had a mission that was a lot more important from his perspective and that was raising money for Democrats in Dallas.

But we did what we needed to do, what I think we had to do, not just for Texas but for this country. And we deployed the Texas National Guard. And we have seen now over 74 percent decrease in those apprehensions along that part.

KELLY: Where do you stand in this issue? Because I was at that presidential debate where you said if you're against in-state tuition for illegal immigrant children, which you allowed in Texas, you don't have a heart.

PERRY: Yeah, that was a little inartful.

KELLY: That was inartful?

PERRY: That term. Well, it was. What I should have explained substantially better was this was an economic issue the people in the state of Texas overwhelmingly passed.  I think there were five votes against it over 150 House members and 31 senators, there were only five votes against it. This was an economic issue, an economic issue that we had to make because these immigration policies have been foisted on us because the federal government absolutely refuses to do its constitutional duty and secure the border.

I don't think this immigration issue is going to go anywhere until the federal government does its constitutional duty and secure that border. If they want to have some help on how to do it, we can tell them.

KELLY: Do you think this is a potential deal breaker for you? People when they talk about Jeb Bush running for example, they say you know, how is he going to get past the conservatives in the GOP primary? Because they think he's too liberal on the subject of immigration among other things, and that was a criticism we heard of you last time around.

PERRY: People know what is it at core of my belief is if you don't get that border secure, you can't have a conversation about immigration. And I think we've proven day after day that Texas is doing the job that the federal government is supposed to be doing and that is securing that border. Put the boots on the ground. Have the technology available. Have the aviation assets in place. Put the work into securing the border. Then we can have a conversation about how to allow for an immigration reform package to go forward. But not until then.

I will not support this president or Congress in anything until they secure the border. And they can. This president just refuses to do it.

KELLY: What about a 2016 presidential run for you? Now, this is early, but if you look at the latest poll, the CBS poll Mitt Romney is polling first with 59 percent of people saying he should run, that doesn't mean they are going to vote for him, 59 percent say he should run. You're number nine in that list because the first time out it didn't go so well for you. What would be different this time? Why would people give you a different look?

PERRY: Well, I think obviously the people have seen in the last 24 months that this is a pretty different individual than they saw back in 2011, 2012. And, you know, back surgery's over with and the preparation's been done for the last 24 months.

KELLY: You feel more polished?

PERRY: Not only feel more polished, I feel substantially more prepared.

KELLY: Really?

PERRY: Indeed.

KELLY: How do you combat -- one thing you've pointed to is Texas economic record and you have a lot to show there. However, the president last night was touting the United States' economic record and talking about how unemployment is down now at 5.6 percent and we've had a third quarter that's got amazing growth. And he and the Democrat who follows him are going to be telling that story.

PERRY: I'm waiting for the president to call me and thank me for the jobs that have been created in Texas over the course of the last 10 years. When you look at September of '07 through current date, 1.4 million jobs created in the state of Texas. Yet in this country, there are still 400,000 jobs below water, 400,000 below where they were. And this president's standing up and taking credit for that? This same president standing up and taking credit for lower gasoline prices.

And the fact is when you look at where the energy came from over the course of the years that he's been president, 61 percent increase in the private sector, 6 percent decrease on federal lands. In spite of this president, the people of America have gone out and worked through policies that he's put into place that have actually killed jobs, kept things from happening. And we're only a couple of good decisions away from this country really exploding economically. Open up the XL pipeline, create those jobs, have corporate tax policy that sends the message we want you to build.


KELLY: You are sounding like a presidential candidate. When are we going to get a decision?

PERRY: I'm sounding like a governor that's been through this process.

KELLY: When are we going to get the decision from Rick Perry for the '16 race?


PERRY: May or June.

KELLY: May or June?

PERRY: I will tell you.

KELLY: And before I let you go, your thoughts on Governor Romney and his potentially running for a third time.

PERRY: Listen, just like with Jeb getting in, I tell people listen, bring good quality people in up the level of folks that are having the conversation. Republicans will sort this all out.

KELLY: All right. We'll be looking forward to watching it, Governor.

PERRY: Thank you, Megyn.

KELLY: Governor, great to see you.

PERRY: Yes, ma'am.

KELLY: Thanks for being here.


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