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Without question, Texas governor Rick Perry is the most successful governor in the United States. While most other states such as Illinois and California are swimming in red ink, Texas is running a surplus. People and businesses may be abandoning high tax states like California, but they're moving into Texas. Unemployment is 2% lower than the national average. Local taxes are among the lowest in the country, no income tax, no capital gains tax. In 2008 Texas created more new jobs than all of the other 49 states combined.

Perry is a conservative with a heart. When Katrina struck New Orleans, it was Perry who offered Texas as a place for the suddenly homeless. Texas took in more hurricane refugees than any other state, fed them, clothed them, educated the children and wound up giving many of them incentives to go out and find jobs.

He's running for an unprecedented (for Texas) third term in 2010. He isn't interested in going to Washington, but he keeps his eyes on what's happening there.

And when it comes to the Obama administration, Mr. Perry doesn't mince words: "To me, this is one of the great Frankenstein experimentations in American history. We've seen that movie before. It was from 1932 to 1940."

As for the health care bill, he calls it "scary"and notes that it was the seniors who figured it out first.

[T]he aspect of this [bill] that has to do with end-of-life decisions . . . are pretty cold-hearted in my opinion. You're a little too old to be spending money on, so we're just going to put you over here in the 'gonna die' category. 'Bye.' That's pretty gruesome and scary to people that are my mom and dad's age."

Another important reason Mr. Perry believes the bill is flawed is because it ignores tort reform. "To talk about health-care reform and not talk about tort reform is like whistling past the cemetery. . . . In this administration's case, it's because they're bought and sold by the trial lawyers." The governor puts his cap back on, adding, "I'll be the pope before we get tort reform with this administration."

By contrast, Perry credits a tort reform measure which he engineered for bringing a lot of new business into Texas -- and doctors.

Perry believes the Republican Party, which lost its way spending like Democrats in Washington, can find its way back with its conservative principles. And he knows a leader he likes:

The political divide, the governor insists, is between "mushy, middle of the road" Republicans and clear, devoted fiscal and social conservatives, like himself and Sarah Palin.


On that last point, he states emphatically, "I love Sarah Palin, I love her positions, I think she was a good governor. . . . I want her to be engaged in this rebuilding of the Republican Party. . . . She is substantially more the face of this country than some other people who might want to be the face of the Republican Party. To me she's the face of America. I mean she's a hard worker, she didn't come from money, she didn't come from privilege, she just worked hard. . . . I have not seen another person who invigorated the Republican base [like she did] with the possible exception of Ronald Reagan in 1976--the speech he made at the Republican Convention. People were looking around and saying, 'we nominated the wrong dude.'"

He intends to stay in Texas. He believes states are the place for innovation and experimentation, not Washington, and he wants to contInue to be part of that.

Read Fiscal Conservatism and the Soul of the GOP, this weekend's Wall Street Journal featured interview.

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