Perry still optimistic about presidential campaign

November 8, 2011 4:23:19 PM PST
While Texas voters focus on Tuesday's election, Gov. Rick Perry is looking forward. Despite the scandal surrounding the GOP frontrunner Herman Cain, Perry hasn't bounced back from a steep tumble in the polls.

We spoke one-on-one with the governor about his presidential campaign and commitment to his current job.

Perry did not address the Herman Cain scandal, saying it's for the Cain team to handle. Perry has his own issues a year from Election Day and just 56 days from the Iowa caucus.

Back in Texas this Election Day, Perry sits in a far different place than he was a year ago.

Twelve months ago, the governor had just been re-elected, was about to launch a national book tour and still said -- somewhat unconvincingly -- that he wouldn't run for president. A year later, he's fighting to hold on to fifth place in Iowa polls.

"How many days have there been since you announced where you said, 'I don't want to do this?'" we asked Perry.

"I haven't had a day where I say I wish I hadn't done this. I have had days where I've thought, 'Man this is a handful,'" Perry replied.

He continues to talk about the issue that he spent so much time on last year -- his hatred of Washington.

"Why do you think Americans are so angry?" we asked.

"Fourteen million Americans out of work is, I think, the biggest driver and they don't see Washington, DC doing anything other than bickering," he said.

Much of his vision includes his flat tax plan. He calls it the centerpiece of his campaign. He's promoting a 20 percent flat tax so easy to understand you can finish it on a postcard.

But some independent reviews suggest it would raise taxes for Texas' middle class and cut taxes the most for wealthy Americans.

"Is that right?" we asked Perry.

"What's important is that I am not trying to divide Americans, I am not trying to pit one group of people against another group of people," Perry said.

As for issues back home in Texas, Perry backed the DNA testing for condemned inmate Hank Skinner. An appeals court halted his scheduled execution Monday.

"The courts intervened and they're going to be moving forward with that," Perry said.

And he pushed for approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would end in Houston.

After our interview Perry was back on a plane, headed for Detroit for his next debate, and unless he can turn this campaign around, his first election loss ever.

"Given any thought as to what it might feel like if you lose one of these early states?" we asked him.

"I don't sit and try to analyze what is going on, other than what is today's work," he replied.

Perry is focused in Iowa, the first contest on January 3. His campaign is on TV and will spend most of December there. But they are in fifth or sixth place, according to the latest polls and admit it is having some effect on their fundraising efforts, which is the key to a national campaign.

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