Texas Governor Rick Perry joined me to start my second day of shows from San Antonio. After talking a little Johnny Football in Cleveland, the conversation turned to 2016:
HH: Broadcasting today from Texas, the wonderful city of San Antonio, my affiliate, KLUP hosting me in town for a couple of days, and wonderful days they are. So what better guest to begin with than the governor of the Lone Star State, Rick Perry. Governor Perry, welcome back, it’s always a pleasure to talk to you.
RP: Well, I hope you’re in the shadow of the Alamo. If you’re not, then you need to get over there as soon as you can. It’s a powerful place, and a great reflective spot for someone who loves liberty as you do.
HH: Well, I have been there, and in fact, the Ohio pennant hangs there, because Ohioans were on the ramparts of the Alamo, Governor Perry. So I made a visit there. But that actually transitions nicely to my first question. You are an A&M man, right?
RP: I am indeed.
HH: Well now, can Johnny Football play in the snow? He’s putting on his big boy football pants, and he’s coming up to Ohio where the football is real and the winter is cold, and he wanted to play for the Browns. What do you think?
RP: Well, you know what? My bet is that he’s going to be able to be a real help to that team up there. They wanted him. That’s where he wanted to go, and I think he’s going to be a great asset to him. You know, just watching him play over the last couple of years has been a real treat, whether you’re a Texas A&M fan or not. If you like football, if you like just the pageantry of the game, the young man brought it.
HH: Are you going to be a Browns fan now, Rick Perry?
RP: You know, it’s funny how that happens. I didn’t pay any attention to the Denver Broncos until they got a pretty good player by the name of Von Miller that went up there. Of course, getting Peyton Manning on the team didn’t hurt as well. You know, being from Texas, you’ve got to love the Dallas Cowboys anyway, but when Dat Nguyen went up there as a linebacker, you became an even better fan. So my bet is I don’t know whether I will become a Browns fan or not, but I’ll sure pay attention to them, and beforehand, didn’t do a lot.
HH: And since you’re a serious football guy, do you think Johnny Football can play in the NFL?
RP: Yeah, I do. I think he’s got the tools. He’s a very bright kid and he’s a competitor. I mean, this kid, he wills a football team to win. I mean, we’ve seen it too many times over there in the games that he played in. I mean, think of that Chick-Fil-A bowl this last year, and they were way. And the young man goes out there, and he wills himself to win. I mean, that’s that kind of competitive spirit, and really, Hugh, when you think about it, when we talk about the states compete against each other, it’s the same concept. I mean, when you think you can get something done, and you go out there and you do it time after time, and it becomes, people start believing in you, and that’s what happened in the state of Texas over the course of the last decade. You know, we really believe that this is the greatest place to live, to raise a family, to have a business. And we’ve worked at it really hard. You know, there are a lot of incredibly talented people in this state, and they’re the ones that get the credit for it. But we helped build that environment in Austin, Texas. We could have gone the path of California and overtaxed, over-regulated, over-litigated, let the unions take over our public schools and you don’t have a skilled workforce. But we went the opposite direction, and I will suggest to you that Texas is one of the most, if not the most competitive state in the nation. And all those jobs that have been created pretty much backs that up.
HH: You know, I have to come to Texas to visit my former pastor. Now I have to come to Texas to visit my friends who work for Toyota, because you just lifted 5,000 jobs out of Torrance, Governor Perry, and you somehow avoid arrest when you come to California and you take all of our jobs. But on another competition, there are four cities left in the competition for the GOP convention in 2016. I know you’re a home towner for Dallas, but let’s just assume for a moment that Dallas isn’t in there. As between Denver, Cleveland and Kansas City, wouldn’t you like to take your nomination on the Lake?
RP: Well, any four of those are great cities. Obviously, you’re right. I’m a homer. And I want that convention to be in Dallas, because we’ll really do it up right. But the fact is you know, let them compete. I mean, that’s the reason we play the game. That’s the reason we go to…as a matter of fact, that’s the reason college football’s going to a playoff format, because it’s a more competitive way to find out who really is the best. So you know, everybody push all their markers up there on the table and let the best city win.
HH: Now I snuck in that part about your acceptance speech. That presumes, of course, a campaign. Is that fair to do?
RP: Oh, man, you’re just killing me. Let me finish being governor first before we decide what my next role in life’s going to be.
HH: Well, when do you have to decide if you’re going to get back in? And I was talking to Rick Santorum today about this. You learn stuff the first time around that is invaluable the second time.
HH: When do you have to decide by?
RP: Yeah, absolutely. And you’re really right. When you think about the history of the nomination on the Republican side, go all the way back to Eisenhower, every nominee for the Republican Party that the Republican Party put up, and even George W., you’ve got to put a little asterisk by his name, because you know, his father ran at least three times nationally.
RP: And George was very, very involved. He knew exactly what it took, and exactly the impact of running for the presidency required. So every one, you know, Nixon, Reagan, go right on through there…
HH: John McCain got the nomination the second time around, Mitt Romney the second time around.
RP: Yeah, they all did. So it really makes a lot of sense, and I agree that the lessons that you learn are invaluable. I mean, listen, it was a humbling and a frustrating experience for me. I’ve never been beaten before in my life. But I’m telling you, I’m glad I did it. It was an incredibly good learning experience for me, and I know now the preparation that’s required. I know that you have to be healthy. You can’t have major back surgery and step into that fray six weeks later and expect to perform at a level that you’re going to have to perform. So being healthy, being prepared, and that’s one of the things we’re doing. And again, I don’t know whether I’m going to run or not, but I’m going to tell you, if I decide to, I will be prepared, and I’m doing all the things that I need to do to be prepared, as well as making Texas the most competitive state in the nation.
HH: Well, that, you’ve done. That’s why, that’s a done deal. Check that box. But the critical path, there’s got to be a date at which you’re going to have to go-no go. Can you at least let us know what that date is?
RP: Yeah, I don’t know. You’re correct. There is some point in time where you’ve got to make that decision, but it’s not any time in the foreseeable future. It’ll be up in 2015, some period of time in there. But we’re going to stay engaged. We’re going to keep going to help the governors across the country. We were in Iowa yesterday with Governor Branstad, and he’s doing a fabulous job up there. His race is important not just, I mean, Terry’s going to win. He’s going to win going away. But they are two seats away in their state senate of taking that body into Republican hands, and then they’ll have the state fully Republican, and they’ll be able to do what we’ve done here in Texas. When you look at them being able to fill Tom Harkin’s Senate seat that that liberal Democrat’s held for 30 years, what a powerful moment in time. One of the keys to taking the Senate back in the United States Senate to Republican hands, getting Harry Reid out of there, who by the way, I mean, you know, this VA issue is incredibly disturbing. I mean, this is a debacle of major proportions. And you had the majority leader in the United States Senate spending his time last week, knowing that this VA issue is out there, talking about the name of a football team in Washington, D.C. I mean, that is absolutely unacceptable from a leader in America to be spending their time doing that when we’ve got young men and women, and I might add, people as old as my father, 89 years old, who are not being able to get served in the United States Veterans Administration programs. So they need to be, back in Washington, trying to figure out how to make that work. And I will suggest to him one of the ways to do it is to privatize a substantial amount of that for these combat veterans in particular, to be able to give them either a voucher or a card where they can go to a clinic, their choice, and get the health care that they need and we promised.
HH: Now you did have an export from Texas this week of a job, Governor Perry. Julian Castro, the mayor of San Antonio, is going up to join the administration. Is he national ticket worthy in your estimation? How’d you get along with him down here?
RP: Well, I’m not sure I understand your question. Obviously, this administration needs some help. They have, if you like the way the Veterans Administration is handling health care, you’re going to love Obamacare, because that’s exactly what’s going on here. And I think it’s one of the reasons the President has been so timid, if you will, in addressing this issue. He knows that if he attacks these, you know, Shinseki or the other individuals who have supposedly been in charge of the Veterans Administration, that he’s going to be attacking government-run health care. And that’s exactly what his signature issue is, the thing that he has worked on harder and longer than any other thing, is Obamacare, which is government-run health care. He needs some help.
HH: And so a last question, Secretary of State Clinton, former Secretary of State, said today in a leak of her memoir, she isn’t going to talk about Benghazi. She is not going to be part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans. Can she actually run for president and not answer questions, Rick Perry?
RP: Well, you know, I don’t have any idea what the former First Lady, Senate and Secretary of State is going to do in her future, but if she does, I will suggest to you whether she does or whether she does not, she owes it to America to stand up, talk about what happened in Benghazi, be open and honest and transparent, regardless of whether you run or not.
HH: Rick Perry, it is always a pleasure to be in your state, and it’s always a pleasure to have you as a guest. Thank you, Governor.
End of interview.