Earlier this afternoon, I met with Governor Rick Perry for an exclusive interview immediately after his speech at AFP’s Defending the Dream Summit in Dallas. The speech itself was very well received by the 3000-plus attendees, who gave the governor a standing ovation as he came off the stage. As he went into the meeting room, a woman whom Perry knows congratulated him and pledged that she will work for his campaign in 2016, at which Perry embraced her and smiled. The good mood continued when we sat down to do the pre-arranged interview, which actually started just before the video does, thanks to a brief technical issue that got resolved.
The governor started off by promising to rib Florida governor Rick Scott about hosting the largest-ever AFP event, which led into a discussion of Texas economics and state competition for workers and entrepreneurs.”It’s real, and it’s uncomfortable,” Perry said, smiling, “but people who want to perform at a high level shouldn’t mind uncomfort.” Perry attributes Texas’ success to fair and predictable tax and regulatory policy, tort reform, and accountability in education.
We discussed the differing directions of Texas from New York and California, and the sometimes-undiscussed circumstances of capital flight, especially in California. I pointed out that the policies are producing a middle class drain in California, and asked Perry whether he’s seen middle-class growth in Texas. Perry noted that some stay in other states because “they are incentivized by the rich government programs,” but that growth in Texas has been broad based. “Texas had led the nation in job creation in all quartiles,” Perry said, citing the Dallas Federal Reserve and Investors Business Daily. “Over 50% of those jobs,” he added, “were in the two higher quartiles.” The prosperity of the Texas expansion has led to an explosion of cultural outlets in the state, which Perry proudly listed in detail.
Next we discussed the Obama administration and its foreign policy, in which Perry included the border crisis, but especially the situation with ISIS. When I brought up Barack Obama’s “no strategy” comment and said that it’s not something one would expect an American president to announce at a press conference, Perry interjected, “Or admit.” This “is a disengaged administration, Perry said. “This is a president who seems to be disengaged from what’s going on in the world. When you stand up in front of the international — the global press,” he continued,” and talk about a photojournalist who’s been beheaded by an absolutely brutal terrorist organization like ISIS, and thirty minutes later be on the golf course — you’re disengaged with what’s going on in the world.” Perry related a story from his meeting last October with Israeli officials, one of whom wondered why an American president wasn’t focused on American interests.
Finally, we discussed the indictment brought against Perry by the Travis County district attorney, and I asked him how a court could take it seriously. “Here’s what I know,” Perry replied, “we take it seriously.” He noted the extensive motion filed by his attorneys to dismiss the case with prejudice, which should be heard soon. “I followed the rule of law” in issuing the veto, one of hundreds in his tenure as governor, “and if I had to do it again, I would do it again.” The indictment threatens the separation and balance of powers within government, and even more concerning, attempts to criminalize normal political debate. “Fascinating? Yes, I guess you could call it that,” he said in response to one of my earlier questions, “but criminalizing politics is not good for America.”
Later, I will post a higher-quality rendition of this interview, but the size of that file is keeping it from uploading properly over the shared Internet connection, which is actually rather good at this conference.
Update, 8/30 7:37 am: Updated with higher-quality video.