Rush Limbaugh Touts 'A New Hope': Conservative Texas Governor Rick Perry For President?
May 19th, 2011
Cr Note: We're In...
By Josh Hinkle
AUSTIN (KXAN) - Big challenges, bright spotlight and great hair -- just a handful of the things we're hearing about Texas' top leader this week.
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh told his listeners that Gov. Rick Perry is the GOP's best shot at the presidency in 2012, while many Democrats here at home are relishing in the collapse of one of the governor's emergency items. And a California state lawmaker has started a "Draft Perry" website .
“I'm standing where I'm standing,” Perry told reporters after being recognized as Technology Champion of the Year at the Austin Technology Council’s CEO Summit. “I've got a legislative session that is substantially more important to the people of the state of Texas and to me.”
True, but the way that legislative session plays out could make or break any possibility of there ever being a President Perry. Certainly, he's heard that a lot this week.
“To get distracted by any talk, whether it's what you would call flattering or whether it's what I would call maybe not so flattering – there's plenty of that out there, too,” he said. “I try not to be distracted by any of it. The people of the state of Texas want us collectively to be focused on getting a budget, getting these issues dealt with, and that's what we're going to do.”
When it comes to the budget, the governor has been at the center of the behind-the-scenes fight between House and Senate negotiators this week. The conference committee was able to come to terms on every section of the budget but education on Monday, and Perry was quick to squash the idea of a special summer session just to wrap it up.
“We're very, very close,” Perry said. “I'm optimistic that at the end of the day, the 30th of May, the 31st of May, that we'll have a budget that we're proud of.”
But in a week where the budget hinges on so many other pieces of legislation, special session rumors continue to re-emerge, especially as Republican leaders have successfully and repeatedly postponed items aimed at pumping billions back into the budget.
For two days, lawmakers saw Perry hurry across the House floor back and forth between his office and the speaker's. Other top officials like the legislature's chief budget writers Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, and Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, joined in those closed-door discussions at times.
“As I have done for many legislative sessions, kind of of pushing people, cajole, having private meetings,” Perry said. “The people expect us to get our work done. The last thing I think folks want [is] to go home to 'Even Washington is functioning with a budget. You can't?'”
But as the week drags on, a compromise between the two chambers' plans is not appearing, and there seems to be dissension among Republicans regarding some of those up-in-the-air revenue items. By Thursday, talk of a special session revolved around the largest of the fiscal matters bills – SB 1811 – and a school finance plan.
“Eight hundred fifty million dollars is not chicken feed,” said Perry, suggesting that amount, in part, was the current sticking point. “But in the grand scheme of a budget that is the size our budget when we're talking about $80 billion of general revenue here, I hope and I think that cooler heads will prevail and that we won't stumble over the House and Senate not coming together.”
Will Perry pull back on his refusal to sign an incomplete budget? It's unlikely, since it's rare he actually points out legislation he won't sign. When asked if lawmakers had approached him about other bills already headed to his desk, he said had not even “looked at a substantial amount of legislation yet.”
“You know me, I'm not going to tell somebody I'm going to veto something or sign something, until we've had time to really look at it in detail,” he said.
A piece of legislation that has drawn the governor's attention this week was one of his emergency items – the sanctuary cities bill. On Wednesday, a Senate committee derailed this plan to let local police question anyone they detain about their citizenship status.
The panel changed the language to instead increase border security and expand the use of a federal citizenship verification program. That bill was left pending because a quorum wasn't present to give it final approval.
“We want our cities to be safe,” Perry said. We want our state to be safe. Whether it's the federal government failing on border security or whether it's sending a message from Austin to those cities that we do not want you to be a haven for people who do harm to our citizens.”
It was seen as a major legislative defeat for the governor, creating more chatter at the Capitol Thursday about a special session specifically for a waning emergency item like this. Perry said he was not ready just yet to rule out the passage of the sanctuary cities bill.
“This is an important piece of legislation,” he said. “There's time though. I know that time's running out, but there's time to not only get a good budget. There's time to pass appropriate
legislation that Texans want to see pass.”
His remark shows his diplomatic ability to remain fluid and also push for something he really wants. No special session? We'll see.
No interest in the White House? Again...we'll see.