Rick Perry was among the GOP would-be nominees who joined me on air today:
HH: On the day of the President’s epic disaster of a press conference, I am pleased to welcome back former Texas Governor Rick Perry. Governor Perry, the President’s press conference today, profoundly debilitating to people who think rationally. What did you make of his, it’s almost denial on his part of the realities of the critics of this deal.
RP: It is. And what I saw out of this president today, and this is of great consternation to me, it’s of great concern, I saw a very, very naïve man who does not know how the world works, who cannot put the dots together, and stood in front of the American people and said I really don’t care if Congress likes this or not, I’m going to do it. It’s a continuation of actually what we saw, Hugh, going all the way back to Obamacare, and forcing something through. Now I will say with Obamacare, he did go through Congress. This does not stand a chance of having a majority support in the United States Congress, not at all. Now he may be able to leverage it politically and get enough Democrats to not override his veto. But the two things that I, I mean, trusting a country that has this long, long record of untrustworthiness, and naively standing up in front of the American people and saying this is the only thing I care about is this very narrow issue of whether or not they’re going to get a nuclear capability, and I think probably the reason he’s tried to paint it down to that very narrow issue is because he knows he could never get an agreement when it came to stopping Iran from being a major exporter of terrorism in the region. He could never get an agreement to allow for true examinations of their nuclear capabilities. Again, it was this thing was troubling on so many fronts.
HH: Let’s go over some of those fronts, Governor Perry. You’ve done a lot of press conferences. You take a lot of questions. Major Garrett from CBS asked a question on many people’s minds, what about the hostages, how can you be celebrating a deal…
HH: And the President turned visibly angry and said shame on you, Major Garrett. Six years into his presidency, he can’t take a tough question.
RP: Yeah, absolutely. That’s another issue. I mean, if you’re going to negotiate, and you’re going to negotiate the best deal that you can get, from our perspective, this wasn’t even on the table. I mean, Americans who have basically been either kidnapped or held unreasonably, illegally, and I suppose didn’t even come up in the conversation, didn’t even come up in the negotiations. And no one should be particularly surprised that this president gets his dander up very easily when he’s asked hard questions.
HH: Governor Perry, he also said, and this is a direct quote, the idea that we are going to turn over $100 million to the Quds Force runs contrary to intelligence we have seen and commitments from the Iranians. That’s just insane. Of course…
RP: Naiveté. Naiveté. I’m telling you, that’s what I mean when I talk about the thing that is most disconcerting for me, is this president’s naïve nature of addressing what’s going on in the world, and his either inability or just, and I don’t, I’m not going to try to get in his mind, but to believe for a moment that $150 billion dollars is not going to be used in some pretty substantial amount to disrupt that part of the world? I mean, Iran, go to their website. They make it clear that they are going to be a major power in that region. I mean, they are celebrating today in the streets of Tehran because of this agreement. They know that they just got a get out of jail free pass from the president of the United States.
HH: Governor Perry, a couple of things that I’m going to ask you and other people seeking the presidency if they’ll do when they become president. You know, Israel is threatened by this deal. We’ve got F-35s, F-18s, we’ve got some B-52s in the boneyard which would serve their strategic needs. Will you as president sell Israel that which Israel needs to defend itself against a near-nuclear or possibly nuclear Iran?
RP: Well, absolutely, and we also need to take it to the next step, put a coalition together in that region. I’ve got to think that the king of Jordan would be standing up with us shoulder to shoulder on any given day against these individuals, and the U.S. forces as well, to make sure that this country does not destabilize that region, and for that matter, inflame the entirety of Europe.
HH: Now this President has also shut down the F-22. We’re not making B-2s anymore. But we have the technology. Is that technology, in your view, something we should be giving Israel?
RP: Yes, I think, and I’ll give you another example of it. We need to be making friends and creating strong allies in the region of the world where there’s disruptive forces. The South China Sea’s a great example of it, Hugh. With India, we had the opportunity to deliver some technology to India back four years ago, I believe, four to five years ago. And we refused to do it. They went to France and bought the Mirage fighters. We lost a huge opportunity, I think, to help create an ally that could be very, very important to us as we go forward in that South China Sea. But again, this, the naïve nature of this administration, I think it goes back to just lack of executive experience. And it’s one of the reasons that when I talk to people around the country about why it’s important for us to elect a president of the United States that’s got some very, very deep executive experience, we see it every day with this president, from my perspective, of an individual who does not have executive experience, and frankly is very naïve about how to negotiate a deal that’s in the best interests of the United States.
HH: But we always hear from people when arms sales are proposed for Israel, specifically F-22, B-2 technology, I don’t think we would sell them any of our fleet, and this president wrongfully shut down the F-22 platform. But the Growlers and the F-35s are in production. They don’t want us to sell stuff to Israel, because it’s destabilizing. I think after this deal, we’ve got to give them whatever they want.
RP: Well, this region of the world is going to become highly armed up, if you will. I mean, I can assure you that the Jordanians and the Saudis and the Turks, the Egyptians, the Israelis, everyone realizes that this $150 billion dollars, I’ll suggest to you, they’re going to go get their armament early, because they know that’s exactly where a substantial amount of this money is going to end up at some particular point in time in the future.
HH: You know, the President also said that this deal was the only way to stop a nuclear arms race in the Middle East involving the Saudis and the Gulf states. It’s almost, it’s like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, Rick Perry. Let me play you that cut. Let’s, this is what he said so the audience doesn’t think I’m making it up.
BO: With this deal, we have the possibility of peacefully resolving a major threat to regional and international security. Without a deal, we risk even more war in the Middle East, and other countries in the region would feel compelled to pursue their own nuclear programs.
HH: So Governor Perry, that is Queen of Hearts, you know, up is down, white is black, it’s crazy.
RP: Yeah. Yeah, listen, we had the opportunity with the hard sanctions in place that we could have pressured Iran into a nuclear deal that is air tight, and at the same time, that would have forced Iran to be a better regional actor, and not to continue to support terror. We gave all of that away, Hugh, early on in the process, and then ended up with that quote that we just heard. It’s, it is unbelievable.
HH: When I come back from break with Governor Rick Perry, we will continue on with the conversation about the President’s press conference today and the deal with Iran. Very quickly, Governor Perry, the Senate is scheduled to go out on recess on August 10th through September 7th. Is that a bad idea at this critical moment?
RP: Well, maybe not. Maybe it’s a good idea, frankly. Get them out of Washington, D.C. and let them hear from their constituents out there. I’ve got to think that when the American people really get a good handle, particularly some of these Democrats who are going to go back to regions that have high support of Israel in their constituency, and they’re going to get an earful from people going hey, Mr. or Miss Congressman, you vote for this, and you have completely lost our support ever.
HH: Well, I want the House to go home. It’s just that we need to focus the debate, and I know you’ll be talking about it every day on the trail. I imagine this’ll be at the top of Rick Perry’s speech every day, because you’re a national security guy. But I don’t know about the rest of the country staying focused if the Senate goes home. I’ll be right back. Governor Rick Perry of Texas is my guest.
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HH: Governor Perry, one of the little known parts of the Obama-Iran alliance is that we have agreed to assist Iran in preparing to respond to nuclear security threats including sabotage as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems. People are saying this means that we’ve agreed to stop Israel from trying to interdict Iranian nuclear capability. What do you make of this one?
RP: Well, it certainly could be read that way. I mean, this is, this is nuclear proliferation. I mean, I think the big change in American policy, the big change in world policy, is now we have just made a 180 degree turn in this country, and in the world, towards sending the signal that we are going to allow Iran to be legitimately internationally recognized as a nuclear power, and the proliferation of nuclear weapons is going to happen. That is stunning in its impact to this country and to the world.
HH: He also went on to say that people are saying that Iran, this deal will allow Iran to take over the world. No one has actually said that. No one says that. But he said that people are saying it about it. Is there, have you run into, in 14 years of public life, have you run into someone who is so obviously indifferent to the legitimate arguments against his policies that are being made?
RP: In a single word, no. Never.
HH: All right. It just is truly remarkable. He also said it’s not the job of the president of the United States to solve every problem in the Middle East. If you’re the president of the United States, Governor Perry, what’s your view of the president’s job vis-à-vis the Middle East?
RP: Well, it is the president’s job in the Middle East to send a message to our allies that we’re going to be there with them, that we’re going to support them. And the best I can tell, which this agreement, we’re sending just the opposite signal. It is our responsibility as the United States to send a message to our adversaries that if you cross the red line, there is a cost. And this president, again, the best I can tell, the two happiest people in the world today is the president of Syria and the head of Iran.
HH: Here’s a little bit more audio from the President. For people who have just gotten into their cars, they won’t believe the press conference today. This is Governor Perry and I talking about the President’s presser. Here he was, what he said.
BO: My hope is that building on this deal, we can continue to have conversations with Iran that incentivize them to behave differently in the region, to be less aggressive, less hostile, more cooperative, to operate the way we expect nations in the international community to behave, but we’re not counting on it.
HH: We’re not counting on it. Here’s another one.
BO: So this deal is not contingent on Iran changing its behavior. It’s not contingent on Iran suddenly operating like a liberal democracy.
HH: And here’s another one.
BO: You know, there are only so many uranium mines in Iran. And if in fact we’re counting the amount of uranium that’s being mined, and suddenly some’s missing on the back end, they’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do.
HH: Now Governor Perry, they’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do if they cheat, and we’re not counting on them not cheating. It’s incoherent.
RP: Exactly what we’ve come to expect out of this president. Whether it was the deal that he made with Cuba, and now this deal with Iran, you know, I don’t want to be over the top here, but this is a president that’s not dealing with reality. I mean, if you wanted to make, if you wanted to make an impact on Iran, change the way they treat their neighborhood, stop them from being involved in the export of terrorism, clearly prohibit their ability to get a nuclear weapon, then you had the opportunity starting five years ago with the sanctions. They were working. They would have come to the table, as I said earlier, we could have done the things that the president says he either doesn’t care about or he knows is not going to happen. Again, I go back to this president is only interested in getting a deal. He doesn’t care whether it’s a bad deal, and I will suggest to you that bringing home those Americans, being able to stop the exporting of terrorism in that region, making sure that Iran is not going to be a disrupter of the region, those were things that we could have done. And the President, though, knew he couldn’t get them done. And therefore, he got into this very narrow lane, and negotiated to the point where we are today. I don’t know whether he doesn’t know it’s not a good deal or not, Hugh, but the American people do, Congress does, and we’re going to do everything that we can to send a message to the United States Senate that they need to vote this thing down, and vote it down with the numbers that this president can’t override veto.
HH: Last couple of minutes, Governor, obviously this deal has also been approved of by Hillary Clinton. And if the President’s not dealing with reality, neither is she. Is it going to be, if you’re the nominee, is it a centerpiece of your campaign against her, that she can’t tell the difference between this deal and a good deal?
RP: Well, obviously she’s got a lot of challenges from the standpoint of her history, whether it goes back to Benghazi, to emails, to moneys flowing into the Clinton Foundation. When you add this to it, it’s just more on the bonfire, if you will, that I think is going to, at the end of the day, incinerate Hillary Clinton.
HH: Is there anything that she can do to keep foreign affairs off of the center point of this debate that’s unfolding? It’s the last question, Governor.
RP: Go ahead, say it again. My cell phone broke up.
HH: Does, can she keep talking about income inequality and other non-national security issues, and by doing so, keep national security off the table?
RP: Oh, I don’t think you can. National security is going to be front and center with this Iran deal, with ISIS, with what’s going on in the South China Sea. Deflecting what’s going on in the world is not going to work. Obviously, Americans care about getting this economy going again. And we’ll have a good conversation about that. We’ll lay out a very positive, optimistic view. But it’s not going to be the Hillary Clinton view, because she wants more taxes, more government. She wants a third term of Barack Obama. We’re going to give Americans a very clear and optimistic option to that. But trying to pivot away from what’s going on in the world is not going to happen.
HH: Rick Perry, always a pleasure, thanks for joining me today, I appreciate it, Governor, good campaigning to you.
RP: Good to be with you, Hugh. So long.
End of interview.