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NBC: "Meet the Press" - Transcript: Death Penalty and the Economy

Interview

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GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: Thank you, sir.

DAVID GREGORY: I wanted to start here because of all the controversy around the death penalty again. You've got 273 people on death row in Texas. After what happened in Oklahoma, do you expect more challenges?

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: Well, state by state those decisions are made about how you're going to punish those who commit the most heinous crimes against your citizens. And in Texas, for a substantially long period of time, our citizens have decided that if you kill our children, if you kill our police officers, for those very heinous crimes, that the appropriate punishment is the death penalty.

I think we have an appropriate process in place, from the standpoint of the appeals process, to make sure that due process is addressed. And the process of the actual execution I would suggest to you is very different from Oklahoma. We only use one drug. But I'm confident that the way that the executions are taken care of in the state of Texas are appropriate.

DAVID GREGORY: And humane?

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: And humane.

DAVID GREGORY: Was this inhumane?

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: I don't know whether it was inhumane or not, but it was botched. And I hope that not only the governor, the legislators will look at the process in Oklahoma.

DAVID GREGORY: But you don't even want, even somebody convicted of a heinous crime, you don't want to see the government responsible for forcing a heart attack because they couldn't inject the proper lethal drugs.

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: There is an appropriate way to deal with this. And obviously, something went terribly wrong.

DAVID GREGORY: Is it appropriate for a pause in our national discussion and application of the death penalty, the president talking about bias, uneven application, soul-searching questions that he'd like the country to take. Do you agree with that?

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: It may be appropriate for a pause in Oklahoma. But here's where the president and I disagree. He all too often, whether it's on health care or whether it's on education or whether it's on this issue of how states deal with the death penalty, he looks for a one-size-fits-all solution centric to Washington D.C.

And I will suggest to you, that's one of the problems we have in this country. We're a very diverse country. And a lot of the states on these issues that aren't addressed directly by the constitution to come up with the solutions. I think the country would be happier, for one thing, I know the country would be more economically viable.

DAVID GREGORY: Let me ask you about the economy. A lot of discussion about the Obama recovery this week. People will look in that in different ways. He has a couple of different steps. And I want to get your take on it. The latest jobs report has the creation of 288,000 jobs in April.

That's the most in more than two years. But here's another stat, which is the labor force shrinking but 806,000 in April. People getting out of the business of looking for a job. Of those two stats, what best represents the Obama recovery, the Obama economy?

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: Well, let me say this, job creation is good. And if the president and Washington would focus on policies that help create jobs, then this country would be substantially better off.

DAVID GREGORY: And so do you give this president credit for more robust growth that we've started to see after the winter months?

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: I mean, that might be a bit of a stretch. I think the bigger issue is the people who have lost hope. I mean, those 800,000 plus people who have just quit looking. I mean, they know they're not going to get a job. It's the people who are underemployed in this country that we need to be focused on.

The policies that allow for job creation are really pretty simple. It's tax policy, it's regulatory policy, it's a legal system that doesn't allow for over-suing. And it is putting policies into place into public schools in particular that make them more accountable, so you have a skilled workforce.

Those four things, if you will put those into place, then allow the private sector to respond with the confidence that they know they're going to be able to keep more of what they work for, I think that's the real dilemma today. Because of a national healthcare program that people really don't know how it's going to affect them other than it's going to cost them more money at least. There's a real dampening down of hope if you will, in the business.

DAVID GREGORY: All right, but you talk about a rock of hope. In your state of Texas, you look at poverty. People who are suffering, who may be without hope. In the United States, that rate is 15.9%. it's higher in Texas, it's 17.9%.

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: Higher, I might add, even and California.

DAVID GREGORY: Uh-huh (AFFIRM). And we'll get that in just a minute. And yet there's a debate about what you do to help people who are struggling around wages, around the minimum wage. Tim Pawlenty, who you ran against in 2012 was part of that presidential ticket there before he dropped out, he was on MSNBC this week. He said this about how Republicans ought to live with this minimum wage fight. Have a look.

TIM PAWLENTY (ON TAPE): I also think, by the way, the Republicans should support reasonably increasing the minimum wage. And if you're going to talk the talk about being for the middle class and the working person, if we have the minimum wage, it should be reasonably adjusted from time to time.

DAVID GREGORY: Are the politics shifting in your party on that?

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: Well, we focus on the maximum wage rather than the minimum wage. 95% of all the jobs that are created in my home state were above the minimum wage. So the idea that you should be focused on the minimum wage when in fact you ought to be focused on policies that create this environment where jobs can be created.

You know, this discussion about minimum wage, when there are no jobs available. Most of us didn't start in the corner office, David. I mean, you worked your way up. And most people understand that concept. I think it's an easy political line to pitch out to say, "I'm for raising the minimum wage," when we're looking past that in Texas from the standpoint of how do we create the maximum wage available?

How do we put more people into the workforce? And almost a third of all jobs created in America in the last decade were created in the state of Texas. And that's where the focus should be. What are the policies that send the message to the job creators that you know that you can risk your capital, have a chance to have return on investment, hire those people out there. That's the real issue. And I'll suggest to you one-size-fits-all policies out of Washington D.C. tampen down that reasonable expectation of being able to create wealth.

DAVID GREGORY: A lot of talk about you running in 2016. You ran in 2012. A lot of people thought that was a botched effort on your part. How do you get a second look now?

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: I would tend to agree with them on the botched efforts side of it.

DAVID GREGORY: So what went wrong?

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: Listen, I think America is a place that believes in second chances. I think that we see more character out of an individual by how do you perform after you fail and you go forward. So I'm really focused on the next nine months of being governor of the state of Texas. I'm going to be in Kansas City recruiting businesses.

I'm going to be across the country talking about red state versus blue-state policies. Hopefully engaged in a good, thoughtful, winsome conversation about how do we make America more competitive, not only domestically, but internationally as well.

DAVID GREGORY: And but you also have to think about your party, about how to get a nomination. So when I ask you how to get a second look, what do you want to say to your party to say, "Look, here's the path to getting the White House back. And here's what Rick Perry can do to get us there"?

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: I think it's important for us to really listen to the American people. And I think Americans are really concerned about how am I going to be able to take care of my family. I'm really worried about those nine million people that are out of work. And the idea that are more women out of the workforce now than in any time in our history, that's just not right.

And there is a blueprint. There are blueprints in states like Florida and Louisiana and what Nikki Haley is doing in South Carolina. And you look up at Ohio and what Kasich's doing. I mean, there's clear blueprint about how you get Americans back to work. And I hope that over the next six to eight months, as we go into those November elections, that there's a big focus on that type of an approach. The Republican leadership on job creation is pretty good in this country.

DAVID GREGORY: In Texas, big state, there's a lot of political figures. You've got Ted Cruz making waves, looking like he's going to run in 2016. And when the former President Bush who said this week he'd like for his brother Jeb to run for president, you know George W. Bush, the president, very well, having then succeeded him as governor. Is there room in Texas for all of you in the presidential race?

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: Like you said, it's a big state.

DAVID GREGORY: So there is?

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: It's a big state.

DAVID GREGORY: Governor Perry, thank you so much.

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: You're welcome.

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