Gov. Perry defends recession remark

September 22, 2009 11:14:01 AM PDT
Republican Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday that a videotape seeming to show him questioning whether Texas is in a recession is only a "snippet" of what he told a business group and shouldn't be taken out of context. Perry told reporters he takes the Texas economy and job creation seriously. He said anyone who listens to him regularly or heard the Houston speech Thursday would know that.

"I think anyone who was listening to my remarks who is not just a rank political hack knows that in almost every one of my remarks I have talked about the seriousness of the, this recession, how it's impacting people. I have said that until every Texan who wants a job has a job we're going to continue to create ways to improve our economy," Perry said.

The videotape, shot by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's gubernatorial campaign and posted on YouTube, shows Perry discussing Texas and the recession.

"We're in one?" the video shows him saying.

Also during that speech to a luncheon hosted by the Deer Park, Pasadena and Southbelt-Ellington chambers of commerce, Perry spoke of his efforts to bring jobs to the state, and said Texas is faring better economically than many other states. In the overall speech Perry did not appear to be denying that Texas is caught in the national recession.

Perry said the section of the speech that is attracting attention twists his words. He said anyone -- including the president, a U.S. senator or a governor -- can have his or her words misrepresented in a "five-second blurb" when there's a "political hack at work."

"I expect you all to look at the whole picture," Perry told reporters, "just like I would expect all Texans to look at my work, look at the whole speech, look at what I said."

Hutchison's campaign has been circulating news stories about Perry's remarks.

Hutchison spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said in a written statement Tuesday: "Rick Perry's words speak for themselves and now he can explain to voters why he was making insensitive remarks when so many Texans are losing their jobs. I doubt he will be cracking jokes in March when he loses his job."

In the Houston speech, Perry told the audience he was asked by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani why Texas is "kind of recession-proof, if you will."

Perry said Texas may be one of the first states to come out of the recession.

"We're in one?" Perry said to laughter. "But seriously, the fact is because we have positioned ourselves so well economically, we're going to be the first state that starts showing that major recovery and the rest of the states will follow us out of it whenever that is going to be."

Perry and Hutchison are locked in an expensive, hard-charging contest to win the GOP nomination for governor. The winner of the March primary will be the favorite heading into the fall 2010 general election.

Perry discussed the recession remarks Tuesday after addressing a summit at the Texas Capitol on cap-and-trade federal climate legislation, which would impose a system to reduce greenhouse gases. Perry said he opposes the legislation because it would kill jobs in Texas and would be a new energy tax that causes the price of gasoline, food and household goods to rise.

Hutchison also opposes the legislation, which has passed the U.S. House but not the Senate.

Environmentalists attending Tuesday's summit said the United States must take action to curb global warming.

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