* Perry says states are where the “action” is
* Does not endorse any Republican for White House run (Adds budget comments)
By Ed Stoddard and Chris Baltimore
AUSTIN, Texas, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Texas Governor Rick Perry on Wednesday emphatically denied that he plans to run for president in 2012, snubbing Washington and arguing that states are where the “action” is in changing the country.
Dampening speculation that the conservative Republican is testing the waters for such a bid, the longest-running governor of Texas said the next president should scale back federal government.
“I don’t want to be president of the United States. I’m not going to run for the presidency of the United States,” Perry told Reuters in an interview in the Texas state capital.
Perry has been coy about his aspirations and said repeatedly that he has the “best job in America.” But his remarks to Reuters were among his most emphatic comments on the subject to date.
Dressed in black boots embroidered with his initials and the Texas flag and a pin-striped suit, Perry has become a rising star among the conservative Tea Party movement.
His state faces the same budget woes as many others, with a gap of $7 billion to $11 billion over the two-year budget cycle starting next year, by his own estimate on Wednesday. The current-cycle budget is $182 billion. But Perry is adamant that he will not raise the burden on businesses to close the gap.
“What’s important by and large is keeping this economy going,” he said, noting that he would not penalize “job creators.”
Perry has fueled speculation he will seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination with a national tour to publicize his book “Fed Up!” which takes aim at what he sees is an intrusive and expansive federal government.
Perry handily won a race against former Houston mayor Bill White in November, and he has also become a constant critic of President Barack Obama’s administration and its agenda.
He declined to handicap the field of possible Republican presidential candidates, which includes former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
“I want someone who will argue that they want to go to Washington D.C. as the president of the United States and help make Washington as inconsequential in peoples lives as they can,” Perry said.
“What’s important in this state is keeping this economy going,” Perry said. “I am a pro-business governor and I make no apologies to anybody.”
Perry said he will continue to challenge federal environmental rules seeking to rein in heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions from refineries and other petrochemical industry, which comprise a big part of the state’s economy.
Texas is the second most populous state behind California and its economy has remained strong in the face of a broad U.S. recession. (Editing by Chris Wilson)