Back now with once and possibly future presidential candidate Rick Perry. Defiant in the face of an abuse of power indictment. He's blasting the charges against him as outrageous. Here's senior... See More
Back now with once and possibly future presidential candidate Rick Perry. Defiant in the face of an abuse of power indictment. He's blasting the charges against him as outrageous. Here's senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny. Reporter: Rick Perry was on the rebound. Eyeing a second bid for the white house. Now, a new hurdle. He's charged with two felonies in Texas. We're going to set up a time, uh, for governor Perry to come before court to -- to be arraigned. Reporter: Count one, abuse of power. Count two, coercing a public servant. He's accused of trying to pressure a democratic district attorney to quit or cut funding to her office. Get the cuffs off of me now. Reporter: He says this woman, rosemary lemberg lost the public trust after being arrested for drunken driving and belligerent conduct. She pleaded guilty but refused to resign. She had gotten under Perry's skin as head of the state's investigative unit. On Saturday, the governor pushed back. Saying the grand jury charges smacked of politics. We don't settle political differences with indictments in the country. It is outrageous. Reporter: An unlikely democrat defended him. David Axelrod tweeted, Perry indictment seems pretty sketchy. The indictment presents a fresh political challenge, just as his comeback tour was going strong. It's been nearly three years since this. Commerce and let's see -- I can't -- the third one I can't. Sorry. Oops. Reporter: When we caught up with him on a trip to Iowa, he was filled with optimism. How tough is it to make a second impression? I think that's what America is all about. Jeff joins us on "The roundtable" with donna Brazile, with Kristen Soltis Anderson and let's start with wane solner from the Texas morning news. Maximum penalty. 99 years in prison. What is the bottom line? Did Perry commit a crime or is this all politics? You look at this in two parts. One is the legal side. What is just hardball politics? That's what politicians do. And what is illegally trying to muscle out of office a political opponent who had been duly elected by folks in her county? That's what a jury will have to decide. Perry thinks it's the former. The prosecutor thinks it's the latter. The other implications are political. As Jeff alluded to in the piece out of Iowa. I was just with Perry in Iowa. He's very well received among a group of Christian conservatives and tea party activists in that state. It's never good to run for president. And that's what he's doing. The prospects of running for president if you have the word indicted associated with your name. Give us a sense. You're on the ground. How is it playing in Texas? There's a division here. Perry has a number of people that jumped to his side. These are pretty much republican allies and operatives. And so forth. Some democrats privately tell me they think this is going to be a stretch. It's one thing to get a grand jury indictment against someone. It's another thing to get a conviction in a court of a sitting governor. In a case like this, where again, the question is, was he just engaged in hardball, not very pretty politics? Or did he do something he shouldn't have been doing? And again, people are divided. Wayne, thank you very much. Back to "The roundtable." I have to come to you, donna. We heard in Jeff's piece, David Axelrod tweeting that thee iing that these charges are sketchy. We heard from Joaquin Castro saying that for the good of Texas, Perry should resign. Who is right? Wow. Well, first of all, the evidence is sealed. We don't know what a grand jury looked at. We don't know exactly if it was, as we have been told, maybe what David was responding to, that this was a political vendetta by the governor and maybe that is sketchy. Maybe under Texas law you can exercise you veto power because you disagree with the individual. The bottom line is that he's going to go before a judge, he's going to get a trial. This will play out over the next couple of months. Right as Rick Perry is trying to win support in Iowa and new Hampshire. I don't think it's good for the governor. But, you know what? If this is texas-sized justice, we'll see in a few months. It took Tom delay five years to get acquitted when he was charged. The big question is what are they accusing Rick Perry of? It sounds as if he's being accused of issuing a veto threat. Which isn't something that, even if it drags out over the course of a hypothetical 2016 campaign, it doesn't sound to me like it was a -- He was trying remove this D.A. He wanted her to resign. I think the tape says it all. I think that the video of why somebody who is heading a public integrity office, who has broken the law, I don't know that he's necessarily in the wrong for calling for someone to step down. The real politics here is she was a democrat, he's a republican governor. Likely he would have replaced her with a republican in the office. There was a prosecutor appointed by bush that took this evidence to a grand jury. I think the notion that this is partisan -- So you think Axelrod is wrong? It's incredibly wrong. It's texas-sized justice. Perry is supposed to be in New Hampshire maybe at the same time he's supposed to go to the courthouse. Is he going to go? How is he handling it? He's going. His advisers say he's proceeding all systems go. He's going to New Hampshire on Friday. He's gaining a lot of second looks. I was in Iowa last week. They say we're going to give him a second shot. This is going to be playing out at the same time, on split screens, if you will. He won't shy away from this. He'll keep pressing forward with his 2016 bid. He's starting early this time. That's so important. He's getting advice from foreign policy advisers. Other things. It's too early to rule him out. Look at the headlines he's been getting. Really good coverage. The oops moment's a long time ago. He's getting glowing coverage because of his handling of the immigration standoff. I have two questions for you, Kristen. A, does it hurt his presidential chances? And B, does he have presidential chances? So, I'll answer your second question first. Yes, he does, as does pretty much anyone on the republican side that throws their hat into the ring. All of these guys hovering between 5% and 10%. Depending on which day it is. I think any of them have a chance. I think the second incarnation of Rick Perry, hipster glasses instead of cowboy Rick Perry is interesting. I think he'll bring a lot to a presidential field. It only makes him stronger. The second look is not going to make Rick Perry look any better. The problem is his record is still out there. His record as governor. The record on health care, on education. He'll be judged by that. Not by the size of Texas and its electoral votes. We have to take a quick
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