TULSA, Okla. -- Sen. Jim Inhofe, a strident conservative voice in the Senate and a vocal skeptic of global warming, formally endorsed Gov. Rick Perry on Monday, calling him "the only guy who can really win this thing."
"The one thing that he has that nobody else has is this background of experience, not just him being an administrator but doing the right thing, cutting down the deficit, increasing jobs. And he's done everything right," Inhofe said, adding, "No one out there running is as aware as to the cost of all the overregulation that we're experiencing right now."
Answering questions after brief remarks, Perry told reporters that the national debt should be addressed by the elimination of federal regulations on the energy industry, which would create jobs and wealth previously unseen in the American economy.
"Just in the energy industry alone, if you remove the boot of regulation that this administration has taken to a new level in this country, the job creation that will occur will be phenomenal. It, singularly, by freeing up these entrepreneurs will create wealth like we have never seen in this country before. And that wealth will pay off that debt."
He repeated his goals of tort reform, spending cuts, and low taxes, saying, "You won't have stimulus programs under President Perry. You won't spend all the money."
Perry also reiterated his critique of the federal government's enforcement of border security, saying that debate over individual immigration laws neglects the massive problem of a porous border.
"You can talk immigration til you're blue in the face, this reform or that reform, passing this law," he said. "But none of it matters, none of it, until we secure our border with Mexico."
Perry's comments on immigration came in response to a question about his previous statements that a hardline Arizona-style immigration law -- as written in the legislation signed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer in 2010, would not be right for Texas.
"I supported an Arizona-type law, but all of that law I did not support," he said. "For instance, turning our law enforcement officers in Texas into immigration [officers]. And I'm on the record pretty good with that. I understand combing through my record and trying to see an inconsistency here and there. That's fine, I know y'all have to have something to do."