Poor Rick Perry. Back when he still had a chance, he couldn't string two coherent sentences together. And now that he's probably at the end of the line, he finally learns to play the game: Namely, to lie, exaggerate and deny with the best of them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Perry, thanks for joining us this morning.
PERRY: Good morning, George. How are you?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm doing well. Thank you. Less than a week to go in South Carolina, you're still lagging far behind. To borrow a metaphor from your home state, has South Carolina become your Alamo?
PERRY: I don't think so. But we get out every day and go take our message of job creation, and, you know, we're the most consistent fiscal conservative and social conservative in the race, and that's our message, both on the airwaves and out on the campaign trail. The retail politics in South Carolina has been awesome.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But as you know, Governor, that big group of social conservatives meeting in Texas yesterday, decided you're not the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. They want Rick Santorum to have that mantle. You didn't even make the final ballot.
PERRY: Well, that's what they said about Ronald Reagan as well, that, you know, he was unelectable, he was not the one that they wanted to pick. But South Carolina citizens said, you know what, he is. So we'll wait and see Saturday what the people of South Carolina say.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What is your message this final week?
PERRY: Well, it's all about jobs and getting this country back working again. I'm -- 11 years of executive governing experience that have created a million jobs in my home state, the 13th largest economy in the world. I keep the taxes low, the regulatory climate fair and predictable, a legal system that doesn't allow for oversuing. And in a state that's got quite a military history and a lot of veterans here, I think they're looking for a president who not only has worn the uniform of the country, but also has been the commander in chief of 20,000-plus National Guard troops that have been deployed multiple times. They know my commitment to the men and women of the military, and we'll stand with them and support them over the course of the years.
As we already know, Texas has a "weak governor," one whose powers and responsibilities are few. We see how well that same "executive governing experience" prepared George W. Bush to be president.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor, as you know, you have taken some heat this week from many Republicans for your attacks on Mitt Romney as a vulture capitalist during his time at Bain Capital. Want to read some of them here. Sean Hannity said, "it almost sounds like Occupy Wall Street." Rudy Giuliani, "it's ignorant and dumb." Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, "it really gives the Democrats a lot of fodder." Any regrets for using that phrase?
PERRY: I think the issue -- it's not a new phrase. It was used by Stewart Stephens (ph), who was one of Mitt Romney's consultants, against Meg Whitman. I think the issue for everyone is, look, this is something that we knew wasn't going to come up. And it's better to be talking about it here in January in South Carolina than it is in September and October with a nominee. So if it's a fatal flaw, then we need to talk about it now.
The issue has been about who's best prepared and who has the background of creating jobs, and that's what those comments were always about, was that, who is the job creator that's on that stage, and I will submit to you that my job creation record is incomparable when it comes to the other candidates on that stage.
Oh yeah, there's the little fact that most of the jobs created in Texas were federal jobs.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don't buy Mitt Romney's argument that at Bain he created more than 100,000 jobs?
PERRY: I think, you know, the issue is, what is the total -- it's just like Sarah Palin, when Sarah asked that question, she said, you know, that's really what this issue is all about, not whether or not did the Bain Capital is a job creator or not, but did they really create that many jobs? So, yes, I think the question is out there, and it's a good conversation to have. We're going to get tested by Obama and his group. So, you better have all of these answers done early. No surprises in September and October.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But I think what a lot of Republicans are worried about, is they're going to hear that phrase "vulture capitalism" coming out of your mouth, from President Obama and the Democrats in the fall?
PERRY: Well, the issue is about job creation. And as I said, I think if this is a fatal flaw, it needs to be talked about now, rather than in September. So, you know, we're talking about it, and the people of South Carolina will decide whether or not that's a problem or not.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, Governor Perry, what is your plan going forward? If you don't come in first or a close second in South Carolina, is that it for your campaign?
PERRY: Well, we'll make that decision on Saturday. Our intention is to win South Carolina and go forward from there. But to try to plan out your campaign months in advance, I think is a little bit of a stretch.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Perry, thanks very much for your time this morning.
PERRY: So long, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Take care.
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