BEDFORD — Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, in New Hampshire for the first of a two-day swing, told business leaders in Bedford today that if runs for President, he will stress executive experience and record of job creation, cutting regulations and a diversifying his state’s energy supply.
Perry said during a 45-minute roundtable discussion at the digital marketing firm Altos that states are the best “laboratories of innovation” and “one-size-fits-all” approach of the federal government is hurtful to the economy on many levels.
The former 14-year governor said that if he does run – a decision he said he will announce in May or June – he will stress that even as a governor he has a background that lends itself to making difficult foreign policy decisions. Perry on Thursday night will wrap up his visit with by keynoting the Strafford County Lincoln Day dinner in Dover.
“Rhetoric is fine,” Perry said, referring to President Barack Obama. “Nobody loves a barn burning speech any more than I do, but if you don’t have the record to back that up – if you’re not road-tested – then I think there is always a concern.”
Perry said he is the only potential candidate in the likely crowded GOP field as it exists today who has military experience, as a pilot in the Air Force. He said that he has deployed the National Guard many times to address domestic issues and to be participate in operations overseas.
“I have been at funerals and written letter and corresponded to parents, spouses, children and loved ones of young men and women who have lost their lives. I understand the costs.
“I think it’s important to understand that, and having that very real life experience of knowing what these conflicts do in terms of treasure and blood.”
He said that recently, “all too often America has been leading from behind,” he said – from Libya to Egypt to Iran.
“We have allowed Mr. Putin to have free rein,” Perry said. “And ISIS is on the front page of everyone’s newspapers. This Islamic terrorist group is basically been emboldened” because of a lack of a consistent strategy by the United States.
“Somehow, we thought we could stop them with some simple bombing missions but that was just not the case, and now we’re left with some really, less than desirable opportunities to stop ISIS,” Perry said.
“It’s going to require our personnel to be engaged on the ground and I would suggest having experience, having a track record of dealing with issues and having experienced people who you trust who also have track records dealing with issues.
“I’m critical of the President and his lack of involvement and we have to have a cogent policy where America leads. I’m a big believer that our engagement is required. We cannot with draw back into the United States and draw a red line around America and somehow think that will live happily ever after.”
On domestic issues, Perry said there can be a manufacturing revival in the United States with policies that can make energy more “accessible, affordable.” He said he supports the Keystone Pipeline but also noted that Texas is the top wind power producer in the country.
Perry said that states must find a balance between the need for transmission facilities, such as pipelines and power lines, and the rights of property owners. One way that was accomplished in his state, he said, was to keep power lines on public right of ways as much as possible.
But he said that in the case of individuals who absolutely refuse to allow transmission lines or other projects to cross their properties, “then you have to have a process in place, and it’s a challenge, but if you want to have the American dream, if you want to have people who have access to decent jobs, then we also have to have the power to operate. We don’t live in nirvana. We live in the real world.”
“States that do in fact want to create an environment where people know they risk their capital, know they can have a chance to have a return on their investment, that’s where they’re going to come and invest.
“If it’s blocked by those who don’t want, for whatever reason, that growth to occur, then you’re going to be challenged as a state and a community and then people are going to decide where they want to live,” Perry said.
“But I don’t think those are issues that need to be decided in Washington, D.C. They are decisions that need to be decided in the states and communities,” he said. “We have to whether we are going to be a country in which we are interested in people having jobs and having good jobs.”
Perry proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which he called “another example of one-size-fits-all coming out of Washington, D.C.” And he noted that Texas chose not to participate in Medicaid expansion.
“Texas has been criticized for having a large number of uninsured,” he said, “but that’s what Texans wanted. They did not want a large government program forcing everyone to purchase insurance.” But he said Texans passed in 2003 a constitutional amendment that brought “the most sweeping tort reform in the nation. And the result of that is that there are now 35,000 more licensed physicians in Texas.”
“And the access to health care exploded,” he said.
“There is enough of (the ACA) that is bad that it needs to be repealed and replaced with some state-based options that would be substantially more efficient and affordable than what you’re seeing now,” said Perry.
Asked what would set him apart from other potential candidates, Perry said, “Executive experience is really important. We’re going to be eight years off a young, inexperienced United States senator and those eight years are not going to reflect well on his ability to get things done.”
He said that the next election, “Americans are going to want someone who has been tested, someone who’s got results in their background and we’re not going to choose another young, untested United States senator. I don’t think that is where Americans are going to want to go.
“So whether it’s on job creation or public safety or public health, I think Americans are going to want to see someone who has that experience,” he said.