by JOEL B. POLLAK
BEVERLY HILLS — Rick Perry makes “no apologies,” he says, for his efforts to recruit California businesses to his state. He is proud that Texas has surpassed California as the top exporter of technology, and proud of the low-tax, low-regulation model that sets his state apart.
Yet he is not rooting for California to fail–far from it. “We need California to be the Golden Bear again,” he told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview Sunday.
The Texas governor notes that California accounts for roughly 20% of the U.S. economy. If it cannot lead, the country cannot succeed. “People here used to say, ‘We don’t need to worry, we’re the center of innovation, we’ve got Silicon Valley–Texas is for minimum-wage jobs.’ That’s not the reality any more,” Gov. Perry warns.
He cites Toyota’s recent decision to move production from Torrance, California to Plano, Texas as a signal not just to domestic investors, but to the world. “That wasn’t quite the same as moving the Hollywood sign, but it is close,” he said, adding that Occidental Petroleum’s decision to relocate to Texas is also a sign of the times.
Gov. Perry argues that companies moving to Texas do more than shift jobs from one state to another. They also grow jobs, he says, because they are freed from burdensome taxes and excessive costs of regulatory compliance.
If he were running for governor of California against incumbent Democrat Jerry Brown, Gov. Perry says, he’s have a single-issue platform. “Economics. Period.”
He suggests that the state begin by sending its legislators home. “In Texas our legislature only meets for 140 days every other year,” he points out. California, too, should move to a part-time legislature, he says–by ballot initiative if necessary–to move government out of the way.
The Texas-California contrast plays well into national debates, which raises an obvious question: will Gov. Perry consider running for president again in 2016?
“Sure thing,” he says, though he adds that he has not decided yet. He adds that he “learned some very difficult lessons” in his first run in 2012.
“You need to do this more than once. You need to be prepared. You need to be well-versed in both domestic and international economic policy. You need to have a firm grasp of foreign policy. And you need to be healthy–which, last time, I was not.”
Asked about his infamous “oops” moment, when he stumbled onstage in a 2012 presidential primary debate, Gov. Perry laughs and shrugs it off. A failure on television, he says, is nothing compared to President Barack Obama’s ongoing failures in the Oval Office, with American lives at stake. And if his potential political opponents want to focus on that one mistake, “they’re not part of the solution to make America great again.”
On the subject of American lives, Gov. Perry pans the recent deal to trade five senior Taliban figures for an American soldier who may have deserted his unit.
“I think this president, in his inner circle, does not have anyone who understands, or has affection for, the military,” says Perry, an Air Force veteran. “They were looking for an excuse to distract attention from the VA scandal–a legitimate American disgrace,” he says.
“They thought it was going to be like killing Osama bin Laden all over again, without any real thought about the consequences” he adds. “The real questions are: Did [President Obama] follow the law? Was this an appropriate thing to do–trading five Taliban? And do we negotiate with terrorists?”
The answers, for the Texas governor, seem clear–on these issues, and many others. And the GOP presidential field for 2016 remains wide open.