Norah O'Donnell pursued Texas Governor Rick Perry on Thursday's CBS This Morning over the controversial land dispute between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal government. O'Donnell asked Perry, "What do you make of this standoff? What do you think of Clive Bundy? Do you think what he's done was a good thing?"
When the Republican politician replied that Bundy is a "side story," and that "rather than sending armed troops....I hope our government officials...use common sense when it comes to these issues of conflict...dealing with something...in a substantially-less confrontational way," the CBS anchor followed up by spotlighting the rancher's racially-charged remarks: [MP3 audio available here; video below]
NORAH O'DONNELL: And just to button up real quick: Clive Bundy made some very inflammatory racial comments that are reported in the New York Times today. Do you denounce those comments?
GOV. RICK PERRY, (R), TEXAS: Right. I don't know what he said, but the fact is, Clive Bundy is a side issue here, compared to what we're looking at in the State of Texas. He is an individual – deal with his – deal with his issues as you may. What we have in the State of Texas – I don't get distracted about – is the federal government is coming in and attempting, from our perspective, to take over private property. And you must – if this country's to stay the land of freedom and liberty, private property rights must be respected.
O'Donnell, along with co-anchors Charlie Rose and Gayle King, brought on Perry, as he was in New York City to promote the business climate in the Lone Star State. After a brief discussion on the job growth and low unemployment in Texas, along with how the governor challenged New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to an economic debate, King pointed out "what people are saying: a little free advice for Rick Perry, the fewer debates the better – oops." The Texas governor interjected that the CBS anchor's statement was "from the Democratic Governors Association," and quickly added, "I thank you for that advice, but I'll make my own decision."
Later, O'Donnell raised the Bundy controversy, and the related dispute in Texas with the federal Bureau of Land Management. In his initial response, Perry noted a past tragic dispute involving an armed contingent from the federal government:
PERRY: I think Cliven Bundy is a side story. The federal government and how the federal government deals with these issues of private citizens – whether it's on the public lands. In the State of Texas, we have a big issue about whether this is private land or this is public land. And rather than sending armed troops – I don't think that is the way that the government should be handling any of these things with its own citizens. We saw a huge debacle in Waco, Texas, back a decade-plus ago with how they dealt with that issue. I hope our government officials are very, very wise and use common sense when it comes to these issues of conflict within the borders of the United States dealing with something that should be able to do be dealt with in a substantially less confrontational way.
Rose also asked a slanted question about another controversial issue:
ROSE: Is immigration a losing issue for Republicans?
PERRY: Not at all. I think the whole immigration debate is about to change substantially because of the energy industry in Mexico and the proliferation of jobs that's going to be created. The bigger issue, Charlie, may be how we're going to have the individuals into this country to fill all the jobs that are going to be needed in America. I think an H-1B visa debate may be more important than the historic immigration debate that we've had before.
Near the end of the segment, the PBS veteran inquired about the 2016 presidential race and a relative of the Texas governor's predecessor:
ROSE: You're from Texas. A former president – first, a former governor from Texas – his brother is thinking about running. Do you think he'll run?
PERRY: I don't know, and it's way early. Jeb's a very capable man and a friend, and a good governor when he was down in Florida. I'm going to be spending my time, over the course of the next nine months, making sure that Rick Scott gets elected in Florida and Susana Martinez over in New Mexico – and working with the governors across the country and talking about these blue state versus red state policies. And hopefully, Andrew Cuomo will come and debate us about those one of these days.