AUSTIN, Texas — Outgoing Texas Governor Rick Perry invited several Austin area political reporters to the Capitol for coffee and a chance to reminisce about his time in office. Wrapping up his fourteenth year in office, Perry is the state’s longest serving governor, having moved up from the Lieutenant Governor’s chair when then-Governor George W. Bush resigned in December 2000 to become President.
— Sarah Rumpf (@rumpfshaker) December 4, 2014
Perry was in a relaxed and jovial mood, mingling among the reporters to chat about college football, families, and memories from the Capitol. He reflected back on when he first arrived at the Capitol, in 1984, when he was elected as a State Representative from his home county of Haskell — as a Democrat. “Thank you for a great ride,” Perry told the reporters. “It’s been a memorable 30 years.”
Like any elected official, Perry has been the subject of criticism from the media, but displayed a sanguine attitude telling the reporters, “Y’all have your job and we have ours, and it’s been fun.” He remarked that he had no expectation of a free pass from the media, saying “they write nice things about you” only “either after you’re gone from office or you die.”
— Peggy Fikac (@pfikac) December 4, 2014
Perry’s official portrait is in progress. Once completed, it will be hung with the portraits of the other Texas Governors in the Capitol Rotunda. The artist is working from photographs and an in-person sitting that the Governor did earlier this year. Perry’s predecessor, Bush, has developed an interest in painting since leaving the White House, and when asked if he had considered hiring him to paint his portrait, Perry quipped, “we actually contacted him, but we couldn’t afford him.”
The recent news story about the brain specimens missing from the University of Texas was another source of amusement. Perry, well-known for his Aggie pride in his alma mater, UT rival Texas A&M, grinned when asked about the story and joked that “a mind is a terrible thing to lose.”
When asked about what accomplishments in office made him the most proud, Perry immediately mentioned the “Texas Veterans Initiative,” an effort launched earlier this year to expand mental health services for Texas veterans, as Breitbart Texas reported. Perry said that he was inspired by his friendship with Marcus Luttrell, a Navy SEAL who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the other three members of his SEAL team were killed during a mission in Afghanistan, a story that was the basis for the movie Lone Survivor. After Luttrell’s therapy dog was killed, Perry invited him to live with his family and he stayed with them for two years. According to Perry,when trying to find ways to help Luttrell he was frustrated at how the “resources [for PTSD] just weren’t there,” but was hopeful how new advances in scientific research and therapy showed great promise in helping our returning veterans.
Widely assumed to be preparing for second attempt at a presidential run, Perry made several comments about his recent meetings with policy advisers and political supporters, and trips to key primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire. He is not yet ready to officially declare his candidacy, and joked that he was still able to get the media attention, because “everyone assumes I’m running,” and that meant he did not have to really ever announce. Still, he did say that he expected to formally make an announcement in May or June of next year.
Photo credit: Sarah Rumpf for Breitbart Texas.
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