With 61 days until the Iowa caucus, CNN chief national correspondent John King traveled to the Hawkeye state to speak directly with voters and the Republican candidates. King sat down with Texas Gov. Rick Perry in Iowa. A highlight of the interview is after the jump and a full transcript from interview will be posted on CNN.com.
CNN Political Ticker: Perry -Our campaign didn't have anything to do with it
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Please credit all usage of the interview to CNN’s John King, USA
Highlight from Full Interview
THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED
JOHN KING, HOST, "JOHN KING USA": We caught up with Governor Perry a couple of hours ago here in Iowa. And after a private conversation during the car ride out from Des Moines, we had an exclusive interview right here at a biotech seed company in Johnston.
KING: Governor, thank you for your time.
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're very welcome, John.
KING: I want to start with what's driving the news right now, which is the Cain campaign and the candidate himself say that you and your campaign owe him an apology.
KING: Do you?
PERRY: No apology needed. We found out about this the same time that I suppose the rest of America found out about it, both on the - the Internet or the next day in the news. So, you know, I don't know how to tell any other way except knew nothing about it, sir. And...
KING: How did you handle that inside the campaign? I know Curt Anderson has come out and said it never happened, I didn't leak anything, I didn't know about anything. He's the person, you know, Mr. Cain's campaign has pointed to specifically, that Herman Cain himself has pointed to. But when - when this happened, what did you do to find out, OK, somebody go ask around, make sure that we had no part in it?
PERRY: Well, I - my folks at the campaign basically said, listen, this is what's going on out there, this is what's happening on the Internet. And we don't have any comment because we don't have anything to do with it.
KING: But when he accused your campaign, did you ask anybody to just check around and make sure?
PERRY: Well, I - my people have already done that. I'm - I can assure you. They didn't need to be asked if someone is out um - spreading those types of malicious rumors. So our campaign didn't have anything to do with it. And we're going on and talking about our tax plan and about how to get Americans back working.
KING: All right. You said nothing to do with it. And I don't - I don't want to dwell on this, but if you ever found out somebody in your campaign did something like that, would you fire them...
PERRY: Out the door.
KING: Out the door? You don't think it's - is it fair game if - if something like this happened or there were allegations when he was the head of an organization, is that fair game or, to you, is that still a...
PERRY: I just think you say, listen, if - if you're passing on rumors that are that heinous, that bad, you don't need to be working with me. Gone.
KING: Do you think - does Mr. Cain owe you an apology for...
PERRY: I'm not...
KING: - for pointing the finger at your campaign?
PERRY: There are going to be - there's going to be more stuff floating around out there in the campaigns, you know, again. So I tell people, this isn't my first rodeo. They're going to say all kinds of things about folks.
I'm going to stay focused on how does America get back to work? And we've laid out a couple of really good plans, both on the energy side and the tax side, how to cut spending. And that's what Americans are interested in.
KING: It is what Americans are ins - interested in. Unfortunately, as you know, it's not your first rodeo, campaigns sometimes do get distracted by these things. Just lastly on this point. There have been some in your campaign, when we call about this, who say it's not us, but maybe you want to look over at Romneyland. Is that fair?
PERRY: Look, I - again, I'm focused on my campaign, on the issues that are important to the people. And I'm - this is over. It's gone. It's done with. And I'm pressing on.
###Tomorrow - King will talk with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.