DES MOINES, Iowa - Texas Gov. Rick Perry revealed a bit of his softer side today, describing the most joyous moment in his life as his son's birth, an ordeal that nearly claimed the life of both his wife, Anita, and his now 28-year-old son, Griffin.
"'Nita was in labor for 40 hours, and her dad's a physician. She was the director of nurses at the hospital. We were living in the little town of Haskell [Texas], which was where she grew up, population of 3,500, 4,000, so she had a very difficult delivery," Perry recounted in an hour-long radio interview in Iowa with WHO radio's Simon Conway. "It was a weekend and the anesthesiologist couldn't come, and her father literally said, 'If we don't get her out of here to Abilene, I'm afraid we're going to lose the baby and her.' So not words you want to hear as you're, you know, the woman you love and your first born is being there.
"We were transported, me in the ambulance with them to Abilene, and this great doctor, Richard Stanley. I still, I'll never forget his name, a very talented OB-GYN, delivered Griffin and handed it to him. And the baby was perfect. I mean, he had been in the birth canal for all these many hours, and you know just the stress, and it just a pink and perfect baby, and I went 'Holy mackerel.' I said, 'I expected him to be all bruised up and what have you.' The doctor's standing, looked at me and he said, 'This isn't my first rodeo.'"
Perry said the birth of his daughter, Sydney, now 25, was much easier, though he joked "she's making up for it now. Twenty-five-year-old, beautiful young lady. Though she's a real blessing. They both are."
The Texas governor expressed his admiration for children who grow up in the spotlight, either as children of celebrities or politicians, as they face the glare of the media waiting for them to commit a mistake.
"I told them both when they got to be 21, I said, 'I'm so proud of you that you both made it to 21 without getting your picture on the front page of the paper in a way that would embarrass you,'" Perry joked.
Perry, who has been married to his wife for 29 years, described the lengthy courtship he shared with his wife, whom he first met at an elementary school piano recital and began dating in high school.
"Forty-five years we've been either dating or married. She is an incredible lady," Perry said. "Her great heart, great mother, a wonderful wife and my best friend."
Mother and son have traveled across the country, touting Perry on the campaign trail. At a luncheon for the Clinton County Republican Women's Club today, Anita Perry promoted her husband's record as Texas governor and conveyed her family's enthusiasm for the governor's upcoming bus tour through the state.
"When you have a debate and a 30-second response or a 60-second response, you really can't get the true picture of the man of character and integrity that he is," Anita Perry said. "So we are so excited about being on the ground in Iowa."