Texas Gov. Rick Perry, facing felony charges that he abused his power, stayed on the offensive Sunday, saying he did the right thing by cutting off money for the state’s anti-corruption watchdog.
“I stood up for the rule of law in the state of Texas,” Perry said on “Fox News Sunday.” “If I had to do it again, I would make exactly the same decision.”
Perry, who may be making a second bid for president in 2016, was indicted Friday by a grand jury on charges of abusing his official capacity and coercing a public servant.
The Republican governor had threatened to veto $7.5 million in funding for the Travis County Public Integrity Unit if Austin’s top prosecutor, Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, did not resign after she was arrested on a drunken-driving charge.
Lehmberg refused to step down and Perry followed through with a veto.
Responding to the indictment for the first time on Saturday, a defiant Perry called it “a farce” and said it was politically motivated, an assertion he reiterated Sunday.
“This is not the way we settle political differences,” Perry said. “You don’t do it with indictments. We settle our political differences at the ballot box.”
Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, a nonprofit group that tracks campaign contributions, said the indictment was not about Perry’s veto. “It’s about his intimidation before the veto,” McDonald said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Democrats, including the party’s chairman in Texas, Gilberto Hinojosa, have called for Perry to resign. But a number of prominent Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, have voiced support for Perry, as have some Democrats.
David Axelrod, a longtime top advisor to President Obama, has raised skepticism about the merits of the indictment.