Texas Governor and former presidential candidate Rick Perry tells Newsmax that Newt Gingrich is the most capable Republican still in the race and the right conservative to go to Washington and “make it as inconsequential as he can.”
He also says supposed front-runner Mitt Romney “hasn’t made the sale” to conservative voters in the GOP primaries.
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And he predicts that a number of states will file suit against the Obama administration’s birth control funding mandate and its “war on religion.”
Perry took office in 2000 and is the longest-serving governor in Texas history. He dropped out of the 2012 presidential race on January 19 and has endorsed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for the Republican nomination.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington on Thursday, Gov. Perry was asked which presidential candidate Texans will support in the state’s Republican primary.
“I’ve endorsed Newt, so I hope that has some impact. We’re looking for the most conservative candidate. Texans by and large are a conservative lot,” he says.
“But any of our candidates are going to be better than Obama. My goal is to send the most conservative person to Washington D.C., that understands how to balance the budget, and Newt Gingrich has done that.
“I think Newt by any measure, from the standpoint of fiscal conservatism, being able to actually operate in that shark tank in Washington, is the most capable individual. He’s balanced a number of budgets before.
“Mitt’s been a very successful businessman, but the idea that you can transform your experiences as a private sector businessman into working in Washington doesn’t necessarily translate.
“I know for a fact that Newt knows how to work there. He is committed to blowing the place up, from a figurative standpoint, and to really put policies into place tax-wise, regulatory-wise.”
Perry says Gingrich is also a “big believer” in the Tenth Amendment, which provides that powers not granted to the federal government nor prohibited to the states by the Constitution should belong to the states or the people.
“You don’t see any of the other candidates out there talking about the Tenth Amendment and empowering the states and devolving power out of Washington, except Newt Gingrich.”
Perry says Gingrich is also the candidate with the best chance of defeating President Obama in November.
“We have gone so far left with this president, with his attack on the states, Obamacare, the war on religion.
“When I talked about this administration being in a war against religion, there were a lot of people who were taken aback about that. But I was right then, and I’m right now.
“I think Newt is the right person to go in and draw this bright contrast, on budgetary issues, on foreign policy, obviously on values, of all the candidates. I think he is the purest one. Mitt has a difficult time standing up and talking about doing away with Obamacare when Romneycare was the blueprint and the reason we got it.”
Romney has been thought by some to have the GOP nomination wrapped up, but Perry believes Rick Santorum, the big winner in Tuesday’s primaries and caucuses, “absolutely” could steal the nomination.
“I think Rick Santorum or Newt could win this nomination. You saw that very clearly over the course of this past week in the Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado primaries and/or caucuses that Mitt did abysmally poor in, so the jury is still out.
“This may go all the way to the convention and if it does, it does. The fact is Mitt hasn’t made the sale to the conservatives in the Republican primaries across this country, and both Newt and Rick Santorum have the ability to go in and talk to the conservatives and they’ll get some good attention.”
Perry won’t call on any of the remaining GOP candidates to drop out of the race at this point.
“I made that decision [to drop out]. It was a tough decision but it was the right decision from my perspective. I want to elect the most conservative individual that we can put up against Obama. I didn’t see a pathway forward for me, and I feel comfortable today that Newt is the most conservative and the individual who will go to Washington D.C., and make it as inconsequential in our lives as he can.”
As for his fellow Texan Ron Paul, Perry tells Newsmax “he is spot on regarding issues dealing with fiscal policy. He has some great ideas and I hope whoever is our nominee will bring him in and use him.
“His foreign policies and military policies I think do put him outside of the mainstream. I don’t think he’s going to be our nominee but I do think there is a real role for Ron Paul to play in the next administration.”
Asked if the states can do anything about the Obama administration’s mandate for religiously-affiliated institutions to pay for employees’ birth control, Perry responds: “I would suggest that the states are going to be filing suit against this administration, probably through Health and Human Services, the issue being that they’re impeding our ability to deliver healthcare because there’s going to be a lot of people losing their jobs because of this.
“I’m very comfortable that attorneys general across the country will file suit to try to stop this administration’s war on religion, and [Texas Attorney General] Greg Abbott will be one of the tips of the spear.”
Perry vows that even though he is no longer a White House candidate he will remain “very much engaged” in national and state policies, and in “making sure that Barack Obama does not have the opportunity to spend our country into oblivion with another four years in office.”
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