Conservatives should support less stringent punishments for marijuana possession, Texas Governor Rick Perry declared Tuesday during a taping of ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live."
"We've been able to shut down a prison in the state of Texas — that's conservative, man!" Perry said, to loud applause from the audience. The Texas governor argued that his conservative state has led the nation in making penalties for marijuana less harsh. "For over a decade, we've lowered the penalties," he said.
Perry explained the rationale behind this reform: "We're trying to be smart about it, you don't want to ruin a kid's life for having a joint." This statement also found a great deal of applause, despite the boos and jeers when Kimmel introduced the governor. The crowd from Austin skewed liberal, or as Perry put it, "Austin's the blueberry in the tomato soup."
"We put drug courts into place, making some really smart decisions about dealing with people, particularly when it comes to the small amounts of drugs," Perry added. Marijuana legalization advocates argue that felonies for possession of even small amounts of pot often ruin lives, especially among minority children.
When Kimmel asked Perry if he had ever smoked marijuana, the governor's response was short and firm. "No, thank God." Quick not to miss a beat, however, Perry quipped "does second-hand count? Because I think there's still some left" in a concert he attended the night before.
Kimmel also delved into Perry's recreational activities, even asking him about his jogging. "Did you shoot a coyote while jogging?" the talk show host asked. "True," Perry said. Kimmel found it hard to believe the governor runs with a gun.
"I do interviews with a gun," Perry declared. When asked if he was wearing a gun right there, the governor dodged the question. "That's the reason it's called a concealed handgun license — you don't know," he quipped.
Kimmel had researched the Texas governor thoroughly, and that led Perry to remark that there is no privacy when a politician decides to run for president. "If you want to find out everything about yourself, some of which is even true, run for president!" the governor quipped. His presidential bid in 2012 derailed after he forgot which department of the federal government he would abolish, during a presidential primary debate.
When asked if he planned to run in 2016, Perry dodged the question. "This is not the crowd," he said, the Jimmy Kimmel show is "probably not the place that I want to announce it."
Nevertheless, the Texas governor left the door wide open. "America is a great place for second chances, let's just leave it at that," he declared.