Perry on defense over Texas health care, '12 campaign
June 21, 2015 at 4 p.m.
Updated June 21, 2015 at 4:01 p.m.
Former Gov. Rick Perry was playing defense today on Fox News Sunday over Texas having the nation's highest rate of uninsured adults, his failure four years ago to adequately prepare for a national campaign and Friday's "oops" moment as he discussed a church massacre in South Carolina.
Perry, who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination, was pressed by host Chris Wallace about how his increasingly populist rhetoric fits with the current state of Texas health care.
"Is that looking out for the little guy when 21 percent of Texans didn't have health insurance?" Wallace asked. "Don't you, as the governor for 14 years, feel some responsibility?"
Perry suggested Wallace was missing the point.
“That’s not how we keep score,” Perry replied about the state's rate of uninsured. “I think it’s a fallacy to say access to health care is about insurance.”
“It’s not about whether you force somebody to buy insurance,” he added. “It’s whether Texans have access to good health care.”
Regarding his failed 2012 campaign, Wallace referred to it as "embarrassing" and "the elephant in the room."
“I didn't prepare properly,” Perry said. “I thought being governor of the state of Texas for 12 years was enough preparation … . Until you've done it, you don't even realize what a challenge it is, these broad array of issues that you have to have more than passing knowledge of.”
He said he's learned "it takes years" to become a serious presidential candidate and that he's sought the wisdom of economic and foreign policy experts as he's formulated positions this time around.
"I feel very comfortable now sitting on the stage that I can have those conversations, and regurgitate that information that I know and that I've absorbed in a way that the American people are going to see a very different candidate than they did four years ago," Perry said.
Wallace questioned that, referring to Perry's slip last week while talking about the church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina.
"You said accident when you meant incident. It was clearly a slip of the tongue," Wallace said. "But social media went nuts, which raises the question, which I thought for some time, don't you have to run almost a perfect campaign? Because if you make any mistake that any other candidate, it would be ignored, people will say, whoops, that's Rick Perry again."
Perry replied that all the candidates will receive such scrutiny, and such slipups aren't a big deal to voters. "People are going to make mistakes, and people know that," he said.
Wallace also pressed him about his performance in polls, especially in Iowa, where he remains near the bottom of the GOP pack despite spending more time there than most other candidates.
"Governor, realistically, do you have a chance to win, or is this campaign more about personal redemption, showing people that you're not the Rick Perry of 2012?" Wallace asked.
Perry reminded Wallace to remember that Rudolph Giuliani led in polls in 2007 and 2008 and finished far back in the pack in Iowa that January.
"This is a process," he said. "I just try to remind people don't get hung up on today's poll. Let's see what it looks like in January."
Politico points out Perry has lingered near the bottom of polls in the nation’s first presidential caucus state, Iowa, despite spending more time there recently than most other candidates.
He came in fifth in a national poll by The Wall Street Journal and NBC News released on Sunday, with 53 percent of Republican primary voters saying they could support him.