Rick Perry to Al Hunt: Nugent Not a Racist, Snowden Not a Whistleblower

Al Hunt joined Rick Perry at CPAC today, where the Texas governor had just finished delivering a rousing speech, exhorting the crowd to wage a “little rebellion” to devolve power to the states. Perry sat down for a wide-ranging interview with Hunt, to be aired later tonight on “Political Capital.” In it, he repeatedly declined to criticize Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and called for a secure-the-border-first approach to immigration reform.

He also said that he didn’t think Ted Nugent was being racist last month, when he called President Obama a mongrel:

HUNT: Ted Nugent recently called President Obama a mongrel You disassociate yourself from that remark. 

PERRY: I’ve said he should apologize, which he did.

HUNT: Do you think it was racist?

PERRY: No, not at all.

HUNT: You don’t think that was a racist comment?

PERRY: I don’t think that was a racist – I don’t think it was – matter of fact, I don’t think it was as racist as what President Clinton said to Ted Kennedy trying to get him to help his wife in the ‘08 election when he said, “You know what, Ted? A few years back this guy was carrying our bags.” Did you ask if that was racist? 

HUNT: I did.

PERRY: Good on you.

HUNT: But you don’t think some of the criticism of Barack Obama is not only ideological, but racist? 

PERRY: I don’t. I don’t. I don’t.

He also disputed Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s assertion that Edward Snowden is a whistleblower:

HUNT:…Rand Paul has said that Edward Snowden is more of a whistle blower than a criminal. Do you agree?

PERRY: I think we’ve got some rules and regulations and laws in this country that Mr. Snowden broke. Now the idea – if Washington DC or if NSA are breaking some of those laws, then we need to go after them. But the fact is from my perspective, and again, I don’t know all the details, but we have rules and regulations and we just can’t have people passing out information that could do damage to our military, that could do damage to our intelligence gathering. 

There are people in this world that want to do really bad harm to the United States. And making all that information available the way Snowden apparently did is against the law. And I would suggest to you that he’s more a criminal than he is a whistle blower.