BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
ROBERTS: The longest serving governor in Texas history is set to reveal his future political plans tomorrow in San Antonio. Governor Rick Perry's announcement comes in the middle of a session to deal with an abortion bill filibustered to death by Democrats.
Governor Perry joins us now from Austin.
Governor Perry, it's good to see you.
You've got this big announcement coming up tomorrow. A lot of talk that you will not stand for a historic fourth term as Texas governor. Will you or won't you?
PERRY: I think -- well, I suppose you need to be there in San Antonio tomorrow and find out with everyone else.
ROBERTS: All right. So, let's look at the tea leaves. A recent poll by Democratic-leaning PPP polling group finds 60 percent of Texans don't think you should run again. I'm wondering, does that factor into your decision? I know that you've won in challenging times before. But does take a little bit of the fire out of your belly?
PERRY: Not at all. You know, polls are polls. And as a matter of fact, I think it was four years ago that showed us 25 points down to a sitting United States senator.
And the fact is that hadn't got anything to do with what our focus is. I'm going to have an announcement tomorrow.
But we have a special session with some important issues in front of us. We're going to pass some restrictions on abortion in Texas so that Texas is a place where we defend life. I mean, that's the powerful message here. And that's what we're focused on. Politics will take care of itself.
ROBERTS: All right. But you do also have this special, exciting announcement about your future tomorrow that I do want to come back to in a second. But let's talk about that special session and the abortion bill coming up again. We all know what happened to that, when it was filibustered by Wendy Davis in the closing hours of the special session.
What are you doing this time around to ensure that that doesn't happen again? Because a lot of conservatives were very angry about the way that was handled.
PERRY: Yes. You know, it never happened before. When you look at Texas history, people have relayed to me that never in the history of Texas have they seen that type of a mob rule come in and discombobulate a legislative session.
And Texans want to protect life. And that's the bottom line here.
And so, calling another special session. We can be in and out of here in 10 days, get our work done, get a transportation bill that was also killed, and another juvenile justice bill addressed.
So, they're going to have hearings tomorrow. I full well expect the legislature to manage this in an appropriate way, get it done way before the 30-day of the legislation runs out in special session.
ROBERTS: Now, you're also suspending the rule, which would require two-thirds approval to bring up debate.
But let me ask you about the comment you just made there. You said "mob rule". And that is a quote and a characterization that you have used before.
Senator Davis stood up and filibustered under the rules, a bill. Does a filibuster constitute mob rule?
PERRY: Oh, not at all. And I think you're misrepresenting what I'm saying here. It was the gallery that was out of control. Literally out of control, with no ability to hear what was going on on the Senate floor. I think anyone who watched that would consider that to be mob rule. And to do it with the express purpose of running out the clock, if you will. That's what occurred. Filibusters happen all the time. And I suspect if somebody wants to try to filibuster again, they're certainly welcome to do that.
The rules were followed on the Senate floor. It was the decorum of the Senate chamber that was put in bad light, and frankly, I would suggest that the Senate officials will not let that happen again.
ROBERTS: All right. What about the Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst? He has seemed to be a little chagrined at how that was handled. What will he do to ensure that the gallery does not try to take over the floor?
PERRY: Well, again, it never happened, the best I can tell, in Texas history has that ever happened. My sources relay that nothing like that has ever happened in Texas history.
And the lieutenant governor, I'm sure, was as shocked as anyone. And I'm also very confident that he's making arrangements if people want to come and disrupt the democratic process that they will be escorted out of the chamber appropriately.
ROBERTS: After the filibuster and the death of the bill, you took what a lot of people saw as a personal swipe against Senator Davis at the National Right to Life Conference. Let me just play that and I'll ask you about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: She was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas Senate. It's just unfortunate that she hasn't learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential, and that every life matters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Your comments, Governor, were very popular among the audience in attendance.
But even Republican House Speaker Joe Straus took exception to what you said. He said, quote, "When he, Perry, crosses the line into the personal, then he damages himself and he damages the Republican Party."
In hindsight, do you regret your comments? And do you think that if you decide to run for president again in 2016, that those comments could hurt you with independent women?
PERRY: Actually, those comments were meant to be a compliment to her for what she had accomplished in her life, and you think about where she came from, what she's accomplished. And as a matter of fact, I would think that she's very proud of that as well.
My point was that saving a life and letting that life come to its fulfillment and all the good things that happened, you never know when who's going to be considered to be an extraordinary individual who's going to make that real impact and life. And that was our point that we were making, and nothing else, nothing more.
ROBERTS: So, why do you think it was seen so differently by so many people, including the Republican speaker of the Texas House?
PERRY: You know, I think this is such a volatile issue that people are grasping on to anything that they can criticize and not focusing on what's really at hand here. And the taking of life after 20 weeks is what this is about -- the killing of babies that are viable outside their mom's bodies after 20 weeks is what this is about.
A lot of folks really don't want to talk about that. They would like to focus on practically anything rather than to say we support that process.
ROBERTS: There is talk, Governor, that Florida Senator Marco Rubio may sign onto a national bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks. Is that is what is needed in your estimation, a national bill? Or should this be handled at the state level?
PERRY: Well, I'm a big believer that the states are where these issues are best handled. I think it's the more efficient way. If someone want does go with a national bill or even a constitutional amendment, that's their right. And it just takes a long time.
In Texas, we're going to support protecting life. We're going to stand up and say that after 20 weeks, we are not going to allow abortion in our state. We're going to make sure that these health clinics are safe, that they are under the safety standards that any other surgical facility would be under, and that doctors have admitting procedure practices in place so that they can look after someone if that procedure goes bad.
So, those are common sense approaches. Ten other states have that as well. So this is going to pass, and, you know, I'm pretty good at counting votes. And I think the support is overwhelmingly there in the House and the Senate, and we will get this done and get Texas back focused on the economic interests that are going on and creating jobs and leading the nation in job creation.
ROBERTS: So you think this is a done deal, which then gives me a little bit of leeway here to come back to your future political plans. And one of the things that I am wondering about is, somebody who is seen as a good Republican candidate for governor there in Texas is the Attorney General Greg Abbott. He has amassed the fortune of more than $18 million at the last count to make a run, and he has said that he will not run against you in a primary. Are your plans to clear the decks for Attorney General Abbott to run for governor?
PERRY: Well, again, I just give you a little advice tomorrow in San Antonio, I'll announce my plans and at that particular point in time we can expand on that.
ROBERTS: Would you think that General Abbott would make a good governor?
PERRY: I think tomorrow afternoon I will be more than happy to discuss what his future plans would be and/or mine.
ROBERTS: Let's talk about 2016. Do you want to take another run at the president?
PERRY: Well, certainly, that's an option out there, but, again, we got a lot of work to do in this building right behind me over the course of the next couple of weeks that have my focus substantially more than even 2014 or 2016.
ROBERTS: With the exception of the time that you'll take out tomorrow to talk about your political future, which brings me to another point, Governor, if I could, a new poll from the University of Texas in "The Texas Tribune" shows that Texans preference for president, more -- they run more to the direction of Ted Cruz if he decides to run. Their polls show that he would beat you by 15 points, also says that he has a substantial margin among conservatives, including people who describe themselves as very conservative. And he beats you 40-2 on the Tea Party front. He is seen as the true conservative there in Texas. Do you have some work to do win back conservatives to say Rick Perry is the guy you want to have in the White House?
PERRY: Well, the work that needs to be done is right here in this building behind us. And, you know, polling for an election that's better than two years off is, I suppose good for polling companies, but frankly, it's not much good -- and I don't get distracted by those. My work is behind me to make sure that innocent life is protected in the state of Texas, to make sure that women get the healthcare that they deserve in these clinics, and to make sure that this is done safely and appropriately. That's what we're focused on. That's where we're going to be. And the politics will play itself out over the next two and a half years before 2016 shows up.
ROBERTS: So, let me ask then, Governor, to close here, what might be an obvious question at this point. You say that the work is going on behind you in the Texas legislature. Why are you taking the time from that to go to San Antonio to talk about your political future?
PERRY: People can multitask rather well. And, so San Antonio's 75 miles. Come on down to Texas, and I'll show you how easy you can roll down that road and back.
ROBERTS: I've done it many, many times. Governor Rick Perry, thanks for joining us, and we'll be watching tomorrow afternoon, 1:00, in San Antonio. Which is a great city by the way, thanks.
PERRY: You're welcome. So long.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT