Earlier this week I had the opportunity to interview Texas Lt. Gov. David H. Dewhurst on camera. There were no rules. No pre-approved questions. Nothing was out of bounds.
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Lt. Gov. Dewhurst has retooled his campaign after a run for U.S. Senate that, it’s fair to say, didn’t go as planned. He came to our conversation straight from a lengthy conference with the Texas Education Agency commissioner and members of the Texas State Board of Education regarding CSCOPE, the controversial educational curriculum used in a majority of school districts across the state. So I led off with a question about CSCOPE’s current state of play, but we also covered the “Texas Miracle” economy; the 2013 state legislative sessions (there were four of them) that saw a landmark pro-life bill pass; the rise of state Sen. Wendy Davis as a potential Democratic candidate for governor; the Fort Hood trial of Nidal Hasan; Benghazi (Dewhurst was a CIA officer earlier in his career), and more.
On the “Texas Miracle” —
DHD: People call it the “Texas Miracle,” and I suppose in a way you could. But it’s really the Texas hard work story. One of the reasons I ran for lieutenant governor was because I’m a lifelong businessman. I’m the only traditional businessperson elected statewide, out of 29 elected statewide officials. I still find that amazing, just amazing. Anyway. When I came in 10 years ago, I thought our economy in Texas was good. But I knew we could do better. And we’ve done better. And again, I give the credit to the people of Texas. But the policies that I have helped lead, and I’ve been a leader in this…in getting government out of the way, keeping our spending low, below inflation and population growth over the last 10 years. I’ve been a leader in cutting taxes, I’ve cut taxes so many times I’ve lost count, 53, 54 times. Almost $16 billion. And keeping a light regulatory hand, because a heavy regulatory hand kills jobs. So, I wanted to make Texas irresistible for businesses to come in and create jobs. And that’s exactly what’s happened.
On keeping Texas’ economy strong in the face of massive new regulations coming at the state from the Obama administration —
DHD: The heavy regulatory hand is just not Obamacare. It’s partly Obamacare, but it’s all these other regulations coming down from Washington. So we’re fighting them. Whether it was the oil spill and no more activity in the Gulf of Mexico, which we fought all the way to the Fifth Circuit and won. Whether it was the cross-state emissions, in other words, counting the coal-fired emissions from Illinois in our Texas numbers, meaning we can’t do as much. We fought that all the way to the Washington courts and won on that. So, we’re gonna fight, we’re gonna fight for our rights to run our state the way we believe is best — we and the majority of our voters.
Obamacare — disaster. Disaster! We consciously this year passed Senate Bill 7. A very important bill, where we’re not gonna expand Medicaid, we’re not gonna expand Obamacare. We’re fighting to keep our health care system, to keep our safety net, so that it doesn’t bankrupt not just Texas but every state. But that’s where we’re going. That’s where this evil intent of Obamacare is to put everybody, every state in a real financial bind and make them dependent on the federal government. Over my dead, cold political body.
Dewhurst added that if he wins a fourth term, he will fight to make sure that Texas doesn’t “slide” and remains the number one state in which to do business. “I believe that we can make Texas stronger,” he said, “I know that we can make more opportunities for Texans. I know we can continue to improve our workforce, our public education.” He added that his own life experience — Dewhurst lost his father to a drunk driver at the age of three — has taught him that opportunity means everything, and that “you can’t have opportunity without freedom.”
Does Dewhurst believe that state Sen. Wendy Davis is a real threat to GOP dominance in Texas?
DHD: No, Wendy Davis isn’t a threat to Republicans. With all due respect to Wendy Davis…I started to say she was a 15-second flash in the pan. But now it’s a couple weeks flash in the pan. The majority of Texans are conservative….Wendy Davis is a very liberal person. She doesn’t represent the mainstream, the majority of Texans.
On why he should remain Texas’ lieutenant governor —
DHD: The majority of Texans want to see a state that’s growing. And I know how, as a businessman, to grow a business, and I know how to grow a state . And we’re growing. Texas is growing this year according to Comptroller Combs 3.4%. Our economy’s growing 3.4%. Over twice the rate of the national economy, at 1.6. I know how to create jobs. I’ve done it all my life. I am probably one of the most conservative elected officials — not probably — I’m one of the most conservative elected officials in the country. And one thing everyone knows about David Dewhurst, whether you’re talking about my standing there with a mob and then we got overrun, we didn’t have enough police officers here, I came back with more police officers, and we passed our historic pro-life bill. People know that I stood there, and when the House couldn’t pass it I passed voter ID three times. One night going 26 hours in a row without stopping. Cause it’s important, it’s right.
Lt. Gov. Dewhurst also addressed the constitutionality of that voter ID bill, pledging to fight for it all the way to the Supreme Court. He noted that states that have passed voter ID have seen voter turnout increase. He also spoke about the state’s demographic shift and what it means for the state’s future. Dewhurst explains that future in his fluent Spanish at about the 16 minute mark, and finishes with a salute to Texans.