Interview: Gov. Rick Perry Talks Ted Cruz, the Constitution, the Bible and the Race for Freedom
James Robison: We’ve been friends for many years, and we’ve prayed together on numerous occasions for our country. How important do you think spiritual guidance is in light of the upcoming elections this fall?
Rick Perry: This election will have a very important impact on the trajectory of America’s future. We find ourselves in what I consider to be the most challenging, difficult, threatening time since World War II because of this War on Terror. The radical Islamic terrorists and their intent to destroy any other religious structure than their radical, wrong-headed view of Islam is one of the great, if not the greatest, challenge we’ve had in 70 years in this country.
We need men and women with Christian values who know in their souls that this country was providentially created and that for the last 200-plus years, when we’ve gone to God in prayer and asked for guidance, wisdom and strength, God has answered. When you see what has happened in this country, driving religion, driving believers from the public square, there is a clear connection to the challenges we have in this country morally, economically, militarily. It goes back to pushing biblical values out of the public square.
James Robison: You were the longest-serving governor in our state (Texas), and we’ve experienced a lot of positive effects of that leadership. What led you to endorse Ted Cruz?
Rick Perry: I had the great privilege in 2011 and 2012 of learning a lot about what it takes to run for the presidency of the United States. It is one of the greatest challenges that any human being could take upon themselves. In 2013-14, I made the decision to prepare myself to again step into that challenge. We knew that two things needed to happen for us to be an acceptable competitor. One: we needed that indictment to go away, and it didn’t. Second: In August we needed to be on that main debate stage so we could be seen by millions more people. Neither one of those things happened and it became clear to me that we weren’t going to be able to stay in the race. In September I went through a process of looking at the remaining candidates to decide: if I couldn’t be the president of the United States, which one did I feel the most comfortable with?
Interestingly, I didn’t know Sen. Cruz as well as I knew some of the other individuals in the race: the governors of New Jersey, Wisconsin, Louisiana (who is a very dear friend) and the former governor of Florida. I thought to be fair to Cruz, and to be fair with myself, I needed to spend some time with him. I know how precious a day off from the campaign trail is. The campaign goes on for months. I reached out, and he was incredibly gracious to take a day that he could be with family, that he could be resting.
We drove around town and had a lovely day. We didn’t talk politics or political strategy — we talked about life. We talked about being a father. I wanted to know who this guy was in his heart. What I found was a person who was a very good listener, and I could tell he was processing what I was saying. He probably — and this is my observation — as a young man was a very shy individual, maybe a little unsure of himself with his social skills, and he compensated for that by sharpening his intellect to a razor-like sharpness. Some people, I think, erroneously have taken that to reflect that he is arrogant. I don’t find that. I find that he is an incredible intellect.
I don’t necessarily agree with him on everything, but one of the things I appreciate is that he is a man of principle. When he ran to be the senator of the state of Texas, he said, “If you send me to Washington, D.C., I will do everything I can to do away with Obamacare — to block it, to defund it, to replace it.” “I will do everything I can to revitalize our military, to take care of our veterans.” That’s what he did. Now, it made some people uncomfortable — particularly, the “Old Guard” in Washington.
I think Ted Cruz was setting the stage — he was laying out markers and saying, “Here’s what I believe in. Here’s what I said I would do. If you want to come and work with me, if you philosophically want to come … At the end of the day, I will work with you.” That’s why I have so much hope that Ted Cruz is not only going to win and be our nominee, but he is going to win the general election and be our president and get this country back on track.
James, you know my background. I was a pilot in the U.S. Air Force. I got in the cockpit of military aircraft thousands of times. Never once did I even consider getting in that aircraft without my checklist. A checklist will save your life. The lights are blinking yellow or red or steady red — sometimes they get to be flashing, as well. You’re distracted. If you use your checklists, which have been proven to be effective, proven to save your life, then you and your precious cargo will be well taken care of.
I know for a fact that Ted Cruz every day uses two checklists — to guide him through his personal and professional life — and that is the Bible and the U.S. Constitution. That is why I became very comfortable giving my support to Ted Cruz, I would not be disappointed.
James Robison: It seems very obvious that a vast majority of the American people are sick and tired of political correctness and prevailing partisanship that does not serve the American people or freedom well. They are cheering a “wrecking-ball” approach. We all acknowledge there are some things that need to be torn down and removed, but it seems to me that a leader who removes something must be able to recognize the necessity of replacing it with something that is effective and sustainable — so you don’t just tear down, you have to build up. Can Ted Cruz — who acknowledges that much needs to be removed, changed and corrected — bring together the necessary cooperation to restore foundations, rebuild the walls and correct our course?
Rick Perry: Yes. It goes back to my previous answer: Checklists. He uses the Bible and the Constitution. The biblical foundation of how to live your life, how to govern are right there in that Book. When you compound that with the U.S. Constitution… Those foundational values are timeless. Ted Cruz knows them, adheres to them, and I want to suggest to you, although Mr. Trump has tapped into the anger, he does not, in my perspective, operate from a checklist other than, What do I need to say today to the audience I’m talking to for them to stand and cheer me on in my very hot rhetoric?
James Robison: We need a great president who can lead us through the great challenges we face. Is Ted Cruz capable of providing that leadership?
Rick Perry: Yes, great leaders have an ability, a characteristic of analyzing very good talent, and empowering that talent. Obviously you choose people who are philosophically aligned with you — you’re not going to pick a liberal to be on the Supreme Court if you are Ted Cruz. You’re going to pick a consistent constitutionalist to be your Supreme Court nominee. I don’t know that with Mr. Trump. Again, consistency for me is the real key here. America is looking for a consistent leader. If and when we get back to that solid, biblically and constitutionally based foundation in this country, America will be great — and America will be great again because we give people freedom, we dissolve power out of Washington. Although Mr. Trump talks an interesting and entertaining game, rarely do I hear him lay out specifics. Ted Cruz, on the other hand, knows exactly how to do it, who to do it with, and why it will empower Americans to be free — to have hope for the future and a place that the next generation of Americans know will be better than their parents have it. What a glorious day it will be when that happens.
James Robison: You said to me that you thought Senator Ted Cruz in Washington had “laid his life on the line” and “placed his body in front of a runaway train” to try to emphasize the necessity of stopping the crisis. It’s as though Trump has the charisma, the pied-piper effect, and could lead the whole nation off the cliff, and they would think they were on the way to Disney World. Ted Cruz has sacrificed himself, as you stated, to say we have to stop what some call “the establishment” at the expense of the people — what he has called “the Washington Cartel.” Now that he has shown us this “establishment Cartel,” will he be able to bring the American people together to sail this ship away from a titanic collapse and get us back on course?
Rick Perry: History is sprinkled with individuals who were willing to give themselves up — some figuratively, some literally. John 15:13 says, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” I believe Ted Cruz made that decision knowing he was going to be greatly despised by the Washington power corridor, whether it’s the lobbyists who have particular interests to protect, or legislators who are more interested in staying in the seat of power than in serving the people who elected them.
A leader gets things done. Whether you agree or disagree with Barack Obama, he is getting some things done, though not in the way most Americans would prefer or what is actually best for them. I don’t think we’ve ever had a president who has more disdain for Washington than Barack Obama does, and he does things with executive orders or rules that you don’t even see. Sen. Cruz will work with the members of Congress because they don’t want to appear to be the ones that are blocking progress. I think you’re going to see a very different attitude out of the Republicans and enough Democrats who realize we’ve got to get this country back on track. If we don’t, their constituents are going to be really poorly served. The Senator knows how to put together a team that can take this country forward in a very powerful way.
James Robison: The American people don’t need to just hear about the importance of the Constitution or the Bible. They have to understand that those principles are in their best interests. I believe Sen. Cruz understands the importance and value of those principles, and I’m convinced you do too. However, if we don’t have understanding of the value of those principles so that we move toward them with conviction, we will never correct our nation’s course. Can Ted Cruz convince people not only that he loves those documents, but show people why those principles are in their best interests and provide the greatest hope and opportunity?
Rick Perry: Yes, and the reason he can is he will use concrete examples. He will show why big government must be reduced in Washington, D.C., and empower people so they can take better care of themselves and their families. … He understands the importance of a limited government in Washington — one that will keep you safe with a strong military and be there to address the enumerated powers in the Constitution — people will live free from the slavery of government regulation, damaging excessive taxation. He will reveal the massive weight of government on the shoulders of our citizens. Ted Cruz knows that. He is passionate about it.
What an extraordinary way to show your care and love for the American people. Sen. Cruz said, “Listen, I’m going to allow you to do anything your heart desires within the boundaries of freedom’s principles.” He will point Americans back to the principles established by our Constitution enabling you to live free.
James Robison: It appears that the candidates on the Democratic side — Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — are saying big government is the solution to all the problems you face. In their estimation, the federal government is our hope and answer. The other side — Ted Cruz, John Kasich and perhaps to some degree, Donald Trump — are saying, “Get the government off the people’s back. Set them free to be the productive people they have been destined and designed to be. Limit the government. It isn’t your hope and source, though it can be your help, a safeguard and a protector of the rights granted us by Nature’s God and Nature’s Law.” There seems to be a clear, distinct difference in the message. Is my assessment correct?
Rick Perry: When you look around the world, every place that socialism has been implemented, it has failed miserably, destroying the economy, freedom and — in Germany, the Soviet Union and other nations — millions of lives.
I don’t think there has ever been a time in our country’s modern history that I can recall when the people who want to be the nominees for the major parties are as blatantly different in their approach to government. We better get this right. Sen. Cruz made the pronouncement six months ago, “We better get this right. You need to choose wisely.”