Rick Perry blasts Iran deal as “destructive”
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer interviews Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry to discuss the Iran deal, Donald Trump and more.
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WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Let’s talk about all of this and more.
Joining us, the Republican presidential candidate, the former Texas governor, Rick Perry, joining us from Austin, Texas.
Governor, thanks very much for joining us.
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It’s an honor to be with you.
BLITZER: Let’s talk about this Iran nuclear deal. You’ve called it — and I’m quoting you now — “one of the most destructive foreign policy decisions in my lifetime.”
Give us an analysis.
Is it more destructive than the Vietnam War, for example?
PERRY: Well, since 1968 to ’70, we have worked with the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons concept. And that’s been our policy for decades. And this president has turned it on its head 180 degrees, in my opinion. That’s the reason I said that this is one of the most destructive policies that I’ve seen.
This is truly a major change from the U.S. policies historically.
BLITZER: Why is that?
PERRY: And I think it does send…
BLITZER: I mean what…
PERRY: — a…
BLITZER: The president says it stops virtually all areas, opportunities, for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.
PERRY: The president and I obviously disagree that you can trust the Iranians. This is the country that killed a substantial number of our Marines in Beirut. This is the country that delivered weapons that killed our soldiers in Iraq. This is the country that delivered weapons that killed our soldiers in Iraq. This is the country that literally, less than 90 days ago, we had a naval blockade to keep them from delivering weapons to the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
And somehow or another, this president very naively believes that they’re going to live up to these agreements. I don’t. I think Bibi Netanyahu is spot on, that the untrustworthiness and the clear challenges to being able to look into those facilities and know what they’re doing, all of this sends a terrible message to our allies.
And, again, the president may be the most naive individual in the world to think that he can trust the Iranians…
BLITZER: You know…
PERRY: — I don’t.
BLITZER: I was going to say, Governor, the president says he doesn’t trust the Iranians, that’s why he’s got all of these other contingents — all these other contingencies included, these IAEA inspections, precisely because he says he doesn’t trust them. Their line now is don’t trust, but verify. Ronald Reagan used to say when negotiating these arms deals with the Soviet — the former Soviet Union, trust but verify. He says don’t trust, but verify.
PERRY: Well, I think the president believing that these safeguards that he says are put in place to be able — for the inspector toss go in, for instance, I mean the idea that we’re going to give them 24 days notice?
I mean this was a — I don’t want Barack Obama — I don’t want President Obama negotiating for me. He gave away the farm before we ever really sat down. I mean the idea — we had Iran in a very tight position on the sanction side of this. I think we could have brought them to the table with the sanction pressure that we had in place. We could have insisted upon the stopping of terrorism being exported out of that country.
But he takes the position of all he wanted was this nuclear agreement, which my takeaway from that, Wolf, is that the president knew that he couldn’t get any of these other things and he kept getting narrower and narrower and narrower with this agreement, to where he got one thing that he thought he could sign off on.
The good news is that the United States Senate is going to have the last say on this. And I hope that senators, Democrats and Republicans, do use some very good, thoughtful observations before they agree to an agreement…
PERRY: — that could literally put the Middle East in great chaos.
BLITZER: So what would you do, Governor, if you were president of the United States on day one, assuming this deal goes into effect?
What would you do?
PERRY: Well, number one, I don’t — I think we’re putting the cart before the horse here to say that the deal is going to get done.
BLITZER: I said assuming.
PERRY: But obviously sending…
BLITZER: Assuming it would get done.
PERRY: Sending the message now to Iran, to our allies in the Middle East that on day one, Rick Perry, if the president of the United States, would do away with that and clearly put sanctions back into place, put back an ability to be able to squeeze Iran.
I mean that country wants to be, clearly, the leader of the Middle East. They will do anything to take that position.
And I think the Saudis, the Jordanians, the Turks, the Egyptians, obviously, the Israelis, as well, that’s the making of a coalition, along with the United States, that can put Iran in the position of being of being a good neighbor, of being a country that can, indeed, not be exporting terrorism, that doesn’t try to create chaos in that part of the world.
I think we just missed an extraordinary opportunity with the Arab Spring, a number of opportunities to get Iran to be a legitimate, decent neighbor. And today, they are celebrating in the streets.
There are two people that are happy today, obviously, the leadership in Iran and Mr. Assad, President Assad.
BLITZER: All right, stand by, Governor.
There’s a lot more to discuss.
I want to pick up on that thought.
I also want to talk about the race for the White House.
Donald Trump, he’s doing amazingly well right now. We’re going to get your thoughts on what’s going on.
Much more with Republican presidential candidate, Rick Perry, when we come back.
BLITZER: We’re back with Republican presidential candidate, Rick Perry.
He’s the former governor of Texas.
He’s joining us live from Austin.
You know, we just learned a few minutes ago that your senator, your junior senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, just entered Trump Tower in New York for a meeting with Donald Trump.
What do you make of what’s going on?
PERRY: Well, everybody gets to pick who they want to hang out with. So I have no idea what’s going on. I’m focused on talking to the American people about the only person that’s going to be standing on that stage that actually has done something about border security, not just talked about it.
And the deploying of our National Guard last summer after I met with the president and looked him in the eye and said Mr. President, if you don’t secure the border, Texas will, along with our Texas Ranger recon teams and our parks and wildlife wardens, that we literally had in the river, along with our National Guard. We saw a 74 percent decrease in the apprehensions that were occurring.
So if you want to talk about border security, there’s only one individual in this country that’s actually been engaged with it and had some success with it. And I know how to do this, Wolf.
You put the personnel on the ground, you have the strategic fencing, you have the aviation assets from Tijuana to El Paso to Brownsville looking down 24-7 with quick response teams to those activities that are either clearly illegal or suspicious. That’s how you secure the border. We know how to do this.
We just did have the will in Washington, DC to do that. I tell people on a regular basis, if you want to secure the border, elect me president of the United States and the will to secure the border will reside in Washington, DC.
BLITZER: Well, Donald Trump says he’s got the best ideas on securing the border. He says he’d build a huge fence. He’d build it right away and he would get Mexico to pay for it.
PERRY: Well, I know how to secure the border. And the idea that you’re going to build a wall — and I think a wall is what he calls this. And, you know, the bottom line is, we know how to secure the border and rhetoric is not going to do it. Action is what’s going to be required.
you put the personnel on the border. A wall without personnel there means nothing. You build a 30 foot wall and the 35-foot ladder business gets good.
The rhetoric is one thing, action and clearly having a plan, and having the executive experience of having done this before, I think it’s what the American people are really going to look for.
BLITZER: You know, he’s doing really well, Donald Trump. This new “USA”/Suffolk University Poll has him at 17 percent,
Jeb Bush is down at, what, 13 percent or so.
Could you see Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee?
PERRY: I think we’re a long way from being able to have any faith that a poll is going to hold up between now into when the primary season is over with. So there’s a lot of good men and women that are going to be standing up and talking about their vision for this country. Mine is going to be a very positive vision about the great opportunities economically.
The fact is America is not going to be secure until we have an economy that allows us to bring the resources into this country so that we can rebuild our military, so we can send a message to our allies that America is going to be strong again and going to stand up with our allies.
So it’s a long time until the primary. I suspect the polls are going to ebb and flow.
BLITZER: Do you think he’s qualified to be president of the United States?
PERRY: Oh, I think there are a lot of people that are qualified to…
BLITZER: What about Trump?
PERRY: — be president. But — I think the real question is, who’s the most qualified?
And at that particular point in time, whether it’s my life experiences of having grown up on that tenant farm out in Texas or whether it’s having worn the uniform of this country, whether it’s been the chief executive of the 12th largest economy in the world for the last 14 years, and, I think, inarguably, a record of job creation that nobody else even gets close to. That’s what the American people are going to look for, not whether there’s a long list of people who may be qualified — who’s the most qualified?
BLITZER: All right, here’s a hypothetical question.
If he did get the Republican presidential nomination and asked you to be his vice presidential running mate, would you say yes?
PERRY: I think that is a way premature question to be asking me. We’re running for the presidency at this particular point in time.
BLITZER: Let’s talk about “El Chapo’s” escape from prison in Mexico. This is the second time he’s escaped from a so-called maximum security prison there. He was arrested last year. The U.S. requested to have him extradited. Mexico refused.
What’s going on in Mexico?
You live right there on the border.
PERRY: Yes, it’s not passing the smell test, that’s for sure. There are some real challenges with corruption in Mexico. We’ve known that for a long time.
This goes right to the heart of why Washington, DC must live up to its constitutional requirement to secure the border. The drug trafficking, the trans national gangs, I mean we’ve been dealing with this for lots of years here. We see the impact of it. And it doesn’t just stop in Texas. Obviously, county attorneys and sheriffs in New Hampshire came up to me last September and said Governor, thank you for what you’re doing to secure that border down there, because we’re being impacted by people coming into this country who are, you know, pushing their drugs, committing crimes against our citizens.
So this entire example of a lack of being able to keep this very, very dangerous man in prison is a great example of why America needs to get serious about securing that border. And, again, I go back to one person, only one person who’s asking to be the president of the United States who’s actually had the experience of dealing with this, and that’s me.
BLITZER: What I hear you saying is that you believe Mexico is a national security problem for the United States.
PERRY: I think there are people in Mexico that are a national security problem. We’ve known that for a long time. And we’ve been saying that for a long time. The idea that we’ve got this porous border and people who would do harm to Americans, whether they’re Mexicans or whether they’re OTMs, is — other than Mexicans, as they’re referred to — know that that border is secure.
And we’re going to continue to be exposed to individuals that will do harm to us, whether they’re terrorists or whether they’re drug cartels or whether they’re trans national gangs, until that border is secure.
Put the personnel on the border in the right places, have the strategic fencing in place and use the aviation assets that we have at this particular point in time, with the technology that’s available, to look down 24/7, identify what’s going on and send those quick response teams and secure the border. This is not — this isn’t rocket science. There’s just no will in Washington, DC to keep the American people safe.
BLITZER: Governor Rick Perry, thanks very much for joining us.
PERRY: You’re welcome, Wolf.