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. mickey1313

    Im glad he came out in suport of g. bush, because it will cost him far more votes then it gains.

    August 12, 2011 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  2. Too_Tall

    President Bush is a great man and a great leader. He made some mistakes, yes, but Bush is light years more a leader than the man in office now.

    August 12, 2011 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  3. Texas Patriot

    Perry's biggest contributor is Bob Perry (no relation) who launched the dirty swift-boat attacks against John Kerry when Kerry was running against George W. Bush and Dallas Multi-billionaire Harold Simmons . Bush and Perry are cut from the same sharkskin cloth. Big money gets them elected and they pay big money back with favors.

    August 12, 2011 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    George W. Bush got Perry elected as Governor and if anyone believes they aren't still close allies has to be completely out of touch because they are in touch and this is no more than political grandstanding. Got to get Jeb Bush in there some kind of way and Perry is the road to any Bushs future. You can take that to the bank.

    August 12, 2011 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  5. Debbie

    Two Deceivers. Claim Christ for their own benefit.

    August 12, 2011 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  6. Jimmy Kelley

    I can't wait another President from Texas.... I would rather drive headlong into a bridge embunkment at 100 mph. The far right talks about "slashing entitlements" like it is welfare. It is a system that they have paid into all of their lives and as soon as people would like to see a return on their investment the politicians want to eliminate them... I dunno how anyone can call that fair or just.

    August 12, 2011 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  7. T'sah from Virginia

    Perry, ask for Bush's endorsement!!

    August 12, 2011 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  8. Yet Another American

    Rick Perry = Bush the 3rd.

    August 12, 2011 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  9. joe

    Why are you amazed by what people will do to hold a political office?

    August 12, 2011 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  10. GoodGirlinTexas

    They are both puppets, beholden to the billionaires that get them elected. Their job is to look pretty, talk about Christianity and "family values", and make sure they take care of those that cough up campaign funds and smear-campaigns against the opposition.

    August 12, 2011 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  11. Terry Gloege

    Gee, now there's a real shocker – a politician " willing to say and do whatever is required."

    August 12, 2011 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  12. monica

    Just what we need a politician who's willing to say or do "whatever it takes". I think the American people and this generation are seeking someone to tell the truth! Even if your opinion is different just be honest and maybe you can be respected!

    August 12, 2011 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Perry, of course, can't come right out and print bumper stickers that say, "Rick Perry - 2012 - Not a Mormon. Instead a bumper sticker that say; Rick Perry allowed an innocent man "Cameron Todd Willingham to Die. I’ m not overwhelmingly pleased that the Obama camp his not taken a stand against all the injustice and corruption in the criminal justice system, however, I truly would not vote for a man who disregarded truth over junk science that put an innocent man to an unjust death. Every state with Death penalty moratorium States: rise up, speak up, and display a bumper sticker that say: Rick Perry for president is a DEATH SENTENCE.

    August 12, 2011 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  14. Jimmy Kelley

    Bring home the troops, slash defense spending, not medicare and social security which people were and still are obligated to pay into. I can not think of a single thing that is more unjust then the government running away with years of obligatory taxes and telling those who paid them, "sorry, we need this money for a new missle system". We have 11k nuclear weapons, no real military will ever attack us. Terrorism is a farce, we have had terrorism since the beginning of civilization...but alas, when people are afraid they will give up almost anything... sigh.

    August 12, 2011 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  15. ray

    you admire a man who defruaded the treasurey , left 10 000 of my fellows out to dry in new Or. and admire a man who cost us 3 trillion with tax cuts. you admire a man who allowed some 5 million mexicans in here. buddy you just lost my vote.......good luck with your election....

    August 12, 2011 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  16. Gee

    Let's talk about the worthless piece of crap in the Oval Office who is ruining our country.

    August 12, 2011 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  17. K3Citizen

    Fool me once, shame on you, Fool me twice and, uh... mmm yeah see, ya fool me once and uhh?

    August 12, 2011 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  18. Aaron

    Bushed poised the well so bad, even being from the same state is too much guilt by association. I'm not saying it's fair, but people will be reluctant to walk down a road that looks remotely like one they've been down before. Bush played the get-r-done-Christian-cowboy-from-Texas-who-turned-the-state-around card to get into office, and that's exactly what Perry is going to sound like.

    August 12, 2011 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  19. GonzoinHouston

    The primary difference is that W did it because he didn't know any better. Perry knows better and will do it anyway.

    August 12, 2011 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  20. AndrewsAFB

    They even look alike.

    August 12, 2011 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  21. Mike

    Rick Perry is an American Taliban Religious ZELOT THAT BELONGS IN GITMO

    August 12, 2011 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  22. cb

    Thank you for not funding my 8 year job as a Texas teacher. No tenure no bargaining rights no rights of any kind. NBC news lets talk

    August 12, 2011 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  23. mickeymo

    Oh Lord, the fact that he admires W is a ClusterF. What the H would be in store for us under his rule. I shudder to think.

    August 12, 2011 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  24. Kareen

    Did Perry pray the gay away?

    August 12, 2011 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  25. jennifer

    As a Texan I'm torn...I would love Gov Perry to win the nomination because Texas needs him gone... however I fear for the USA if he were elected president...

    August 12, 2011 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
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