ABC News’ Arlette Saenz (@arlettesaenz) reports:
In his first national radio interview since announcing his presidential bid, Rick Perry posited the healthcare law implemented in Massachusetts will prove to be a blemish on Mitt Romney’s record.
“I think Mitt is finally recognizing that the Massachusetts healthcare plan that he passed is a huge problem for him, and yeah it was not almost perfect,” Perry said on the Laura Ingraham Show Thursday.
Perry, who leaped over Romney to claim the top GOP spot in a Gallup poll released yesterday, said he advocates allowing healthcare to operate in the free market and hopes the Supreme Court will rule the individual mandate is unconstitutional.
The Texas governor defended his decision to cut $4 billion from the Texas education budget, arguing that Texas public schools have made improvements in accountability and college readiness since he became governor in 2000. Last week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan criticized Perry’s influence on the Texas public school system, saying class sizes have increased and major funding cuts harm the children’s ability to learn since he assumed the governorship.
“Far too few of their high school graduates are actually prepared to go on to college,” Duncan said in an interview on Bloomberg Television last week. “I feel very, very badly for the children there.”
Perry used the radio interview to distinguish himself from another Texas politician who assumed the presidency – George W. Bush, who Perry said he respects and calls a friend.
“I’m Rick Perry and I am who I am and I’ve got my own record. I’m not George Bush, I don’t try to be,” Perry said. “I am not an establishment figure,” Perry said. “I dislike Washington. I think it’s a seedy place.”
Asked by Ingraham to promise he would not vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, Perry replied, “I’m not even sure I know where it is.