Perry: Obama acting "Nixonian" over Fast and Furious

CBS News

(CBS News) Texas Governor and former Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry described President Obama's assertion of executive privilege over documents related to the gunwalking case known as "Fast and Furious" as "Nixonian."

On "Face the Nation," Perry compared the scandal involving the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms' cross-border transfer of weapons to Watergate and said of the current controversy, "This is almost Nixonian, if not absolutely Nixonian, in the cover-up that's going on with the Fast and Furious.

"I mean, with Watergate, you had a second-rate burglary," Perry said, adding that in the Fast and Furious case, "A former marine and a border patrol agent by the name of Brian Terry lost his life."

However, when asked twice by host Bob Schieffer if Congress should hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for not providing documents requested by a House panel, Perry refused to answer, and instead said the president is orchestrating a coverup.

"What I would favor is the President of the United States being transparent with what is going on. I mean what is so important - what are they hiding? What has gone on that's so important that I'm going to use executive privilege to keep the United States Congress from having documents?" Perry rhetorically asked.

"This is really troubling."

Perry said he doesn't know what he is accusing the president of: "That's the issue. If he will be transparent, if he will be open with the Congress and the American people, then we will know what went on with Fast and Furious," Perry said.

House Speaker John Boehner has said the House will vote on contempt this week, after the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted along party lines to hold Holder in contempt.

The governor, who was a Republican presidential candidate until he left the race in January, also discussed immigration on "Face the Nation," and said the issues surrounding the DREAM Act are "completely and absolutely different."

Days after both President Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney spoke at a Hispanic conference, Perry criticized the president and defended Romney, even though Perry has a different position than Romney on the DREAM Act, the measure that would give supporting undocumented youth to attend college at the same price as in-state residents.

Also on "Face the Nation:" LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Romney has "amnesia" on immigration

"These two issues, of which President Obama and what we as governors have to deal with, are completely and absolutely different," Perry said. "President Obama is going around the Congress and, frankly, a very lawless way of doing it. He's basically - he couldn't get it done through Congress, so he's just basically, during an election year, using this as the political wedge issue. Very, very different."

However, Perry said he supports the issue because of "the economic impact that it has on the states."

Perry was also highly critical during the Republican primary of Romney's role at Bain Capital, as pointed out by Schieffer. But on Sunday, Perry said he was wrong for attacking Romney over the issue.

"I'm saying that is a wrong attack that's not going to work politically," Perry said. "That attack didn't work during the primary. It's not going to work during the general election, either."

Watch the full interview here.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for