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EXCLUSIVE: Governor Perry Looks Ahead, Reflects On Years In Office

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AUSTIN (CBS 11 NEWS) - Rick Perry is a giant in Texas politics. And after serving 14 years as Governor, he's spending his final days in office.

During a one-on-one interview in his Capitol office, reporter jack Fink asked Governor Perry if the reality of leaving office is now setting in. "It has and we are looking forward to it. It's another adventure in life," he said. "Anita and I are both really excited about what's next and I don't know what next is, but we're really excited about it."

In late 2000, Perry, then Lt. Governor, took over for Governor George W. Bush who became President.

Perry went on to become the longest-serving and some say most powerful Governor in Texas history. He says Texas has thrived under his leadership and pointed to successes such as an "One hundred eighteen-percent increase of Hispanic students participating in college now. When you think about the number of jobs, we led the nation in the creation of jobs and a state, 5.6 million more people call this state home than when I was first sworn in as Governor."

Perry also pointed out that the state experienced its jobs boom while also reducing pollution.

When asked what his biggest legislative failures were, Mr. Perry pointed to two controversies: His proposed mandate to require all girls receive the vaccine to prevent the human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease, unless they opted out.

Mr. Perry also proposed the $175 billion Trans Texas Corridor, including toll roads and high-speed rail to reduce clogged highways. But in both cases state legislators and Texas residents revolted. The Governor dropped both proposals.

Governor Perry said, "Leading is about coming up with big, visionary ideas or out of the box ideas. But being a good leader is also respecting people when they say that's not where they want to go. I work for them. It's not the other way around."

Now that Governor Perry is leaving Texas politics, he finds himself at a crossroads. He's considering running for President again, but he still faces charges of abuse of power from last August's indictment.

The Governor is accused of threatening to veto funding for part of the Travis County District Attorney's office if DA Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, didn't resign after her drunk driving conviction. She didn't resign, and the Governor followed through with his veto threat.

Jack asked Governor Perry how concerned he is about the possibility he could be convicted, and if the criminal case could hurt his ability to run for the White House a second time. "It'll play itself out, and I have great faith in the system and that it will end in an appropriate way. I think Americans are pretty astute and see this for what it is."

After the "oops" moment during his first, unsuccessful run for President, Governor Perry says he's been studying, and will make a decision whether to run again this May or June.

The Governor said, "I've spent the last 22 months in a very deep effort to be prepared whether it's domestic policy, or foreign policy, or monetary policy and I feel very comfortable about the work we've done."

Governor Perry will give his final speech before a joint session of the Texas legislature January 15.

Mr. Perry will leave office five days later when the former Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott will be sworn in as Governor.

Follow Jack on Twitter: @cbs11jack

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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