NEW ORLEANS — Republicans across the South were introduced to the energetic style of Texas Gov. Rick Perry two weeks ago here at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.
The quadrennial conference is billed as stomping grounds for 2012 GOP presidential candidates. Despite giving one of the best speeches in an afternoon that included talks by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, there’s no running in 2012 for Perry, and his name was left off the conference straw poll ballot at his office’s request.
“I’m not being coy. I don’t want to go to Washington, D.C.,” Perry told HUMAN EVENTS in an exclusive interview. “I have great interest in who will be the presidential candidate in 2012, and I’ll be active and I’ll be engaged and I’ll be helpful and do all of the things that a governor of a major state can do and should do, but it won’t be me… I have a great bully pulpit.”
Perry may gain broader national recognition soon as the issue of immigration heats up again. Congressional Democrats have a short list of issues to pursue now that healthcare has passed and immigration is near the top.
Perry told HUMAN EVENTS that his office is preparing for the debate over immigration reform and border security and said he will be offering solutions soon on those issues, which he says go hand-in-hand.
Perry also had strong words regarding the cap-and-trade energy proposal, as the Senate is expected to revisit a climate bill later this month.
Perry said Texas will lose 300,000 jobs if cap and trade is implemented.
“Cap and trade will devastate this country economically and make us even more dependent on foreign sources of oil,” said Perry, who announced in February that Texas was suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its decision to declare carbon dioxide a toxic substance. He said the decision would devastate Texas’ economy and raise energy prices nationwide. Perry also called Obama’s surprise announcement to open up offshore drilling at various locations along the U.S. coastline was a “classic red herring.”
Whether the issue is cap and tax or immigration, Perry doesn’t have confidence that Washington will get it right.
“Anything this administration is tackling makes me nervous, because I know their instinct is to make Washington be the epicenter of all the decision making and all the authority,” Perry said. He said the states instead should be making many of the decisions.
Perry thinks the administration can look to Texas as a place that’s leading the way in energy independence and cleaning up air pollution.
“We produce more wind energy in Texas than all but four other countries,” Perry said. “Our air is 20% cleaner today than it was in 2001. Our NOx levels are down like 46%, the ozone levels are down 20%. And this is in a place that has 25% of the refining capability in America.
“We’re doing what you would think this administration would be looking for: making us more independent from foreign sources of oil, and cleaning up the air. But instead, it appears to us that we’re being penalized for it.”
Texas joined 18 other states in suing over the healthcare legislation that passed Congress in March, and Perry said Texas will be fighting the healthcare bill in the courts “until the last man stands.”
“Washington needs to quit trying to make all of us look alike,” Perry said. “With all due respect, I don’t want to look like another state. I want to be Texas.”