Perry on his predecessor:  'I love George Bush'
August 13th, 2011
09:43 AM ET
2 years ago

Perry on his predecessor: 'I love George Bush'

Washington (CNN) – If Rick Perry is elected President, he will be the second Texas governor in a row to do so. So it's natural that Perry will be asked the George W. Bush question time and again in the upcoming campaign: how is he different?

During Perry's run for re-election in 2006, Perry told a local PBS station in Austin it's perfectly fine to draw distinctions.

"I don't think that there is anything wrong with respectfully disagreeing with someone who I highly admire. I love George Bush. I think he's a great President and I support him," Perry said in the interview.

The question is still coming up to this day. Not whether he's running for president. But whether he's running from George W. Bush.

"Actually I called him on his birthday," Perry said to Time Magazine, fondly remembering a chat he had with the former President last month.

Perry insisted there's no bad blood with the man he replaced.

"Not from my perspective. And certainly not between George W. Bush and I," Perry said.

But go to YouTube and it's complicated. Four years ago while Perry was speaking on behalf of Rudy Giuliani's failed campaign for president in 2008, the Texas governor slammed his predecessor.

"Let me share something with you. George Bush was never a fiscal conservative. Never was. Wasn't when he was in Texas," Perry told a gathering of Republicans.

This was not an isolated incident. In his run for re-election in 2006, Perry ran an ad that blasted Washington on the issue of illegal immigration.

"If Washington won't protect our border, Texas will," the ad said.

He was later asked in that PBS interview in Austin which Washington he meant. The Republican controlled Congress or the GOP controlled White House?

"All of them. And the fact of the matter is every one is complicit in not addressing this issue. And it's not like we haven't asked them," Perry said.

Former Texas Democratic Congressman Martin Frost says it's all vintage Perry, a tough Texas political pro who should not be underestimated.

"Rick Perry is willing to say and do whatever is required. And if it means throwing George W. Bush under the bus, he'll do it," Frost said.

Frost argues Perry has a bigger Bush problem.

"If you close your eyes and listen to Governor Perry, he sounds like George W. Bush. He drops his "g's." He uses some of the same word choice."

They both grew up in West Texas. Both have ranches. Perry grew up on one in the tiny town of Paint Creek. Bush has Crawford.

But Perry has gone his own way in Austin to the satisfaction of the state's conservative voters. Re-elected three times in '02, '06, and '10, he is the longest serving Governor in Texas history.

James Henson, the director of the Texas Politics project at the University of Texas-Austin, says Perry governed to the right of Bush, slashing state budgets and courting tea party activists who can be sharply critical of the former President.

"All of that was an effort to rebrand, if you will, Texas as Rick Perry's Texas rather than George W. Bush's Texas. And looking forward to a possible national campaign, clearly Governor Perry is going to need distance from President Bush," Henson said.

Perry isn't the only one doing the distancing. When Perry ran for re-election last year, he lost the endorsements of President George H.W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney who both supported Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in what was a bitter primary challenge.

"We have no doubt Kay has the right vision and certainly the right values to help Texas build an even better tomorrow," former President George H.W. Bush said in his endorsement for Hutchison.

Perry won anyway.

Former Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says any bad blood is not going to play out between "the principals," referring to Perry and his predecessor.

"I think at the staff level there's a certain tension between staffers for George W. Bush and Governor Perry's staffers," Fleischer said.

Recall that then-candidate Bush was often compared to his father. It's natural for closely-aligned politicians to create a little separation.

"Part of running for office is establishing your identity. Sometimes you reinforce that which came before you. Sometimes you differ and I suspect we're going to see both of those with Governor Perry," Fleischer said.

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Filed under: 2012 • George W. Bush • Rick Perry • Texas • TV-Anderson Cooper 360
soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. Donkey Party

    Those words, as well as most of his actions will haunt Perry.

    August 13, 2011 05:07 am at 5:07 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    George W. Bush is his mentor!?!? Perry has just initiated his campaign's auto-destruct.

    August 13, 2011 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  3. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    President Obama will have a ball with this.

    August 13, 2011 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  4. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Get a room, you two.

    August 13, 2011 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  5. diridi

    This idiot destroy this nation like W....o.k, Cut Education, give to Oil thugs, drinking sewage water, no health care benefit to Minimum wage guys, all temporary idiots hired...o.k, Idiot....Iowa, do not be fools, god bless....This idiot propagates religion....idiot...

    August 13, 2011 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  6. NoTags

    Perry's statement that he "loved George Bush" says it all. Perry's just a dubya clone with the same mixed up ideas and he's also just as stupid as dubya.

    August 13, 2011 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  7. Marie MD

    Oh, oh, the closet secessionist loves the shrub? Run shrub run!
    Maybe he needs to speak to big boy marcus, unless he is too busy shoving reporters out of the way and making sure his wife doesn't have to answer questions (migraine maybe?), so he can help him pray too.

    August 13, 2011 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  8. The Greedy Old Pigs have lost their minds!

    Perry will be able to distinguish himself from our worst president ever, GWB. Perry will do this by repeatedly demonstrating he would actually be WORSE than GWB. Give Bush credit, at least he pulled average grades in an Ivy League college. Perry could barely make it through Texas A&M, and had terrible grades, even for some of his major courses. Being president requires a certain amount of brainpower Perry simply lacks. What a disaster he would be.

    August 13, 2011 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  9. pb

    He loves George Bush! That should give everyone an idea of what his stand is on anything. Ditto

    August 13, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  10. Clwyd

    It figures he would! Birds of a feather flock together! Vultures that is!

    August 13, 2011 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  11. maf

    Nooooooooooooooo! Please not another Bush!!!!

    August 13, 2011 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  12. Kenneth the VI of Minneapolis

    Has Texas seceded yet?

    August 13, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  13. DENNA

    George Bush should have taken as a guide to his presidency from the doctors: 'first do no harm'. He was ill-equipped for the job just as some people claim President Obama is. The difference between a well-educated President Obama and a legacy baby like George Bush is as wide as the Rio Grande. American cannot survive another Texan running it.

    August 13, 2011 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  14. Anonymous

    Warning! Rick Perry is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Things in TX are not as great as the picture he will try to paint. Be very careful when it comes to Perry. He is sly and cunning!

    August 13, 2011 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  15. Myron8160

    Not to long ago this guy rick perry wanted to take back texas from the US of AMERICA

    August 13, 2011 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  16. GOP Hate America

    no surprise there you share the same IQ

    August 13, 2011 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  17. Jess C.

    That quote alone is proof enough for me. He's a fellow C & D student; they have plenty in common. Enough said.....we not need to replay that history lesson.

    August 13, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  18. sarah-fl

    OH NO please stay the hell away....we had enough of ya'll!

    August 13, 2011 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  19. Rick McDaniel

    They get along, after a fashion. Politicians rarely seek to feud with others.......they never know when they might have need for their support.

    In spite of the Bush bashers, around the country, most of whom have no real idea of what Bush did or didn't do, I still have a lot more respect for what Bush did do, vs. what might have happened, if he hadn't been on the job. Few politicians would have performed as well, given what he had to contend with. (Certainly Obama has NOT done as well.)

    Perry is not the same kind of guy.......but at least he is NOT a spendthrfit. Against Obama, he should be a shoe in. He is also more moderate on social issues, than many republicans are.

    August 13, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  20. vic , nashville ,tn

    Last Thursday we knew Obama will win 2012

    “I love Bush” best gift Obama got

    August 13, 2011 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  21. Dave

    Stare at this picture focusing on Perry with your left eye and Bush with your right. Concentrate and stare real real hard. After about two minutes the picture merges into a beast with a 666 on its forehead. I kid you not. try it! Better than 3D!

    August 13, 2011 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  22. Gary, Hunt Valley, Md.

    Nice move, Minister Perry.....you love a guy who earned the back of America's hand for years. Bush lived with a well-deserved approval rating in the 20s for most of his second term, while his Cheney mate registered in the teens. Yeah, always good to align yourself with such good stock. Yeah, America, take a chance on another religious right-winger from Texas. Can't wait for the campaign.

    August 13, 2011 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
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