Exclusive: Rick Perry on his meeting with President Obama
This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," July 9, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Joining me now on more of tonight's meeting with the president is none other than Texas Governor Rick Perry. Governor, good to see you. How are you?
GOV. RICK PERRY, R-TEXAS: Sean, it's good to be with you. Welcome to Texas.
HANNITY: Soon to be a citizen, I hope.
HANNITY: The president said that you made sense, the meeting was -- the conversation was constructive. What do you say?
PERRY: Well, I'm glad the president thinks what I said makes sense because we've been saying it for many years now. Since back in 2005, we've known that this border was a real issue. And particularly in '09, we had signaled the president and signaled Homeland Security of the massive amount of problems that could occur, and they needed to secure the border.
And I will suggest to you, had the money been spent back in those days to put the National Guard troops on the border to bolster the border patrol, we wouldn't be seeing the issues that we have today. And it is a humanitarian crisis, and that, I will suggest, is the reason the president needs to come to the border to see it himself. I think about the criticism that George W. Bush received when he didn't go to New Orleans, Katrina. This is no different. This president needs...
HANNITY: Did you ask him?
PERRY: Absolutely. The first thing I asked him when I got onto Air Force One, I said, Mr. President, I said, I really want you to come and see this because, I said, this is important for you to absorb as a father, but more importantly as the president of the United States, to see the humanitarian crisis and to also understand how you can move the border patrol forward, away from the 45 miles or so back they are today, to be right on the border, to see what the Department of Public Safety is doing with our gunboats in the river to stop the criminal activity that's going on.
That's what the president needs to see. He needs to understand instinctively and intuitively and with his own two eyes what's going on on that border.
HANNITY: So you think he's making a mistake by not coming. And he's -- he talked about, you know, Well, I have -- I've sent this guy, Jeh whatever his name is, down six times, Jeh Johnson.
PERRY: Yes. Well, I'm pretty sure that if George Bush had said, Well, I sent my FEMA director down multiple times, that he would have still been criticized greatly because you need to go. That's what governors do, that's what presidents do when there are natural disasters, when there is crises like this.
A president needs to be there to show the American people, number one, that he understands and...
HANNITY: You first invited for what I guess you viewed as a photo-op to meet the president on the tarmac, and you said no, but if you're willing to talk about the humanitarian and national security crisis, I'll be glad to meet with you. President -- did he give in to pressure? Did he seem like he wanted to be at the meeting? Walk us through it.
PERRY: Well, I think the president thinks it's important to talk to governors. I certainly hope he does, particularly one that -- I may have been a bit of a thorn in his side through the years, but I've tried to do it in a respectful way and a thoughtful way, and what I think is right for the people of the state of Texas, and in this case, what's right for America.
And I didn't want to just go show up on the ramp in Austin, Texas, and shake his hand and say, Welcome to Texas, Mr. President, when the fact is, we have a humanitarian crisis on our hands on the southern border, and the president needs to be engaged. The president needs -- he's coming to Texas. He's 311 miles from Austin to Mcallen. I mean, Air Force One is a pretty fast ride.
HANNITY: He's used...
HANNITY: ... $44 million worth, according to the last estimate. Let me ask from this standpoint. You requested specific things from him, and the president responded. What did you ask for and what did he say?
PERRY: And the president said that all of these -- philosophically, he said he agreed with all of these. The first was to put the National Guard -- to secure the border. And we know how to secure the border. Steve McCraw (ph), the director of the department of public safety -- we've done enough surges. We know how to put the resources on the border to drive down the criminal activities astoundingly low. I mean, it's amazing what happens when you surge in. When you show that force, if you will, then the cartels and the other illegal activities drop down considerably, I mean, amazingly low, Sean.
HANNITY: So you can effectively control the border.
PERRY: You can secure the border. And that's what I shared with him today. I said, Mr. President, you can secure the border. We've done it. We'll show you how to do it. And -- but I said, You really can't do it unless you allow the National Guard to come in and to play a very prominent and visible role, move that border patrol.
The -- the -- and he agreed with this philosophical thing. I'm not sure the president understood that border patrol is sitting back about 40, 45 miles now with their checkpoints, so when the illegal activity occurs, whether it's drug running or whatever it might be, and people are apprehended and -- we're not interested in apprehension. We're interested in prevention. And that's the reason that being on the border -- our DPS troopers, that surge we put into place...
HANNITY: You're up close. You're on the border.
PERRY: We're on the border. Tomorrow, you're going to be on the border...
HANNITY: I'm out with you.
PERRY: ... and in the river.
HANNITY: We're going to be in the river. We're going to be up in the air. We're going to be out on a boat, and we're going to go up close and see it. Is this -- the trip that we're going on tomorrow, is that the trip that the president should be taking?
PERRY: He would be very well served...
HANNITY: Let me...
PERRY: ... not only politically because he thinks it's a political photo-op. It's not. It's about real people and real issues, a humanitarian crisis that he has the ability to stop.
HANNITY: Let me ask you about that because the president repeatedly mentioned the supplemental, the supplemental. He's requesting of Congress, what, $3.7 billion for this specific issue.
PERRY: And I might add less than 2 percent of it is for border security.
HANNITY: OK. That's the point. Here's -- you mentioned a humanitarian crisis. If this is a national security issue -- in other words...
PERRY: Which it is, as well.
HANNITY: All right. If it is, would he then not therefore have the authority and the responsibility, frankly, to secure the border for national security reasons, and couldn't he do that on his own?
PERRY: Well, I certainly think he can. I think that he could direct the DOD to put Title 32, which is where the federal government pays for these. And he keeps going back to that, you know, The Republicans in Congress just won't work with me, and they have to fund this $3.7 billion bill.
And you know, Mr. President, you can deal with this. You can unilaterally direct the Department of Defense to put those troops on the border, to do that work. And he starts talking about a philosophical issue that he may or may not have with that.
And we're past that. If you want to send the message to those Central American countries, to those families down there that are hearing messages, If you'll just send your children up to the Texas border, have them cross, they can stay in America...
HANNITY: Let me ask you this. He said parents need to know that it is dangerous and it's unlikely their kids will stay, and the majority of kids will be sent back. When you look at the money -- Senator Coburn said for $8 million, you can fly every kid home and reunite them with their parents. Why do you think he's requesting all that money if none of it's going to be -- none of it's going to solve the underlying problem, which is that the border is wide open?
PERRY: So the supplemental from my -- and I -- look, I haven't gotten into the weeds on this, but from my perspective, the supplemental isn't about securing the border. The supplemental about something else.
HANNITY: What do you think it's about?
PERRY: And you'll have to get the president to tell you what he wants those dollars for.
HANNITY: The likelihood of that, Governor, is not very high. But I mean, $3.7 billion is a lot of money.
PERRY: It is a huge amount of money. But again, Sean, when you start talking about less than $100 million of that is going to go for border security...
HANNITY: Doesn't work.
PERRY: It doesn't work.
HANNITY: Let me ask you this. So you got to spend a lot of time with the president. Give us your read on him. Does he understand the severity of the problem? Does he -- he seemed to be kind of complaining a lot about Republicans, blaming them.
HANNITY: If everybody agrees, and you said the president agreed to secure the border and the Republicans agree to secure the border, why don't we secure the border and do the one thing that everyone agrees on, and then deal with the other issues later?
PERRY: And this isn't a Democrat issue or a Republican issue, this is an American issue. I mean, when you have Henry Cuellar -- you had two other...
HANNITY: He's joining us later.
PERRY: ... two other congressmen from the valley, Vela, and Hinojosa, they both sent a letter to the president asking him to come. So this is a bipartisan ask, and it ought to be a bipartisan fix.
And I think that's the thing that stuns me as a governor who has to deal with Democrats and Republicans in Austin, Texas, is I don't always get everything I want. As a matter of fact, I can't think of anything that I got 100 percent of, and the president needs to address this issue.
HANNITY: Is he playing politics here?
PERRY: I -- you know...
HANNITY: We got to take a break, but...
PERRY: The president can fix this unilaterally with a direct order to the DOD to put the National Guard, and not a more powerful message can be sent to Central America than that.
HANNITY: All right, we got to take a break. We're going to come back. We'll have more with Governor Rick Perry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We have strengthened border security beyond what many believed was possible.
JANET NAPOLITANO, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I can say that our security efforts along the border are strong and getting stronger every day.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think anyone who looks at this honestly will note the tremendous strides we have made in the past four years in protecting our borders. In fact, they have never been better enforced than they are now. Like I said, our borders now are more secure than they have ever been in history.
OBAMA: They said we needed to triple the border patrol. Well, now they're going to say we need to quadruple the border patrol, or they'll want a higher fence. Maybe they'll need a moat.
OBAMA: Maybe they want alligators in the moat. They'll never be satisfied!
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
HANNITY: And welcome back to "Hannity." We are in Dallas, Texas, tonight with Governor Rick Perry. That was administration officials telling us time after time the border is secure, and the president who said he doesn't want to play politics with this talking about moats and alligators. What's your reaction?
PERRY: Well, it's same president who said al Qaeda is on the run. And you know, I don't know whether he's inept or there's something else going on, as I've said before, but the fact is the border is not secure. We have a humanitarian crisis on our hands now because the border is not secure.
And the president needs to understand that the single most important thing that he can do is put the National Guard on the border to coordinate with local law enforcement, with our state law enforcement with the border patrol, and you can secure the border, because we have done it before. Steve McCraw, the Department of Public Safety director -- he knows how to do this. We have done it in different sectors.
HANNITY: Bring people inside the room, because there were faith-based leaders, you're in the room, the president's there. You had this little public showdown about meeting on the tarmac or not. Bring us inside the room, your observations, your insights, your read of this man, read of him and his understanding of what we're talking about here.
PERRY: Yes. You know, the president -- I think the president was engaged as I was discussing with him. I did a lot of listening and...
HANNITY: Likes to talk a lot.
PERRY: ... and the president, you know, he let me know what his feelings were about these things and what the fixes were. And I injected where I could. And the fact is, I don't know whether he heard what I said and -- and -- because a leader acts. And what I haven't seen out of this president are actions that make me think he understands what's going on.
It's one of the reasons I want him to come to the border because I think he really needs to see how the interaction with these different law enforcements and the addition of the National Guard could secure that border. And I think if the president would see that with his own eyes, then he would act on it. You can't talk about it. You have to act, Mr. President.
HANNITY: We got...
PERRY: That's what leadership is.
HANNITY: We got health issues. We've got gang members. We've got drugs crossing the border. Now we have talk of militia members maybe coming down to do the job that the federal government's not doing. I'm sure that's not something you want to have happen, is it?
PERRY: No, it's not. And you know, we have now supplemented our appropriation. We've spent over a half a billion dollars since 2005 on the border, Texas taxpayers' dollars, to do the job that the federal government should have been doing, another $1.3 million a week on top of that.
And you know, the president can address this. He can easily address this. I don't understand his pushback when it comes to, Well, we've got to pass this supplemental bill before we can do that.
Mr. President, if you care about securing the border, you can direct the DOD to make those 1,000 National Guard troops available, and that would send the powerful message. You want to send some symbolic messages down to Central America and say, You no longer can send your kids up here because they can't get in.
HANNITY: Do you think he send the message to come? Is he responsible?
PERRY: Well, I think the policy -- I mean, the nuances of the policies, when it's catch and release, when it's that if you're from another country outside of Mexico, then you're going to be treated differently and you can stay here for up to two years -- of course, those are messages that very quickly get transported back to Central American countries.
And so the failure of this administration to secure the border -- I wrote them a letter in -- I handed him a letter in 2010 talking about the border problem that we had and the lack of security there. We wrote a letter in 2012 talking specifically about these unaccompanied alien children. And...
PERRY: ... if you want to fix this...
HANNITY: Well, let me ask...
HANNITY: ... because I would look at the VA issue, and if I heard, and I were president, which by the way, everybody knows would never happen, I would set up a 1-800 number because vets are dying and we made them a promise, and that promise isn't being fulfilled. And I would make sure that vets were in desperate need of care that we were neglecting would be taken care of within at least a week.
It seems the president doesn't ever have that sense of urgency. Are you saying that this is an urgent issue that needs to be addressed within weeks, months? What are you telling him?
PERRY: I think you could have 1,000 National Guard troops on the border -- the message sent well before that, but in 30 days, actually have them in place. And the message would be overpowering back to Central America that you no longer can put your kid on a train, put them on a bus, send them up with a coyote and have them come into the United States because that border is now secure.
That's the most humane thing that we can do. I mean, if you want to address this issue of all of this human cost, the most powerful thing the president of the United States...
HANNITY: ... is put them...
HANNITY: Parents or kids.
PERRY: Don't let them be separated to begin with.
HANNITY: Governor, appreciate it.
PERRY: You're welcome.
HANNITY: Thank you so much.
PERRY: Appreciate you being here.
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