Gov. Rick Perry has a prescription for the GOP: stop fighting and start winning.
In his first trip back to Iowa since his failed presidential bid in 2012, the Texas Republican told “The Fine Print” that the tea party and establishment wings of the Republican Party need to come together in the interest of winning elections.
“If you can't win elections, you can't govern,” he said. “Stand up for what you believe in, but at the end of the day, electing individuals who are going to implement good economic and social policies in this country is the goal.”
Perry pointed to the government shutdown as a distraction that contributed to Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli losing the Virginia governor’s race last week.
“In hindsight, I would have a whole lot rather the candidate in Virginia been able to talk about Obamacare and the impact of that rather than the government shutdown,” Perry said. “It would have been wiser for us to have laid the wood to the president, so to speak … let it become an issue of ‘Mr. President, you own this.’”
Perry said President Obama “knowingly perpetrated a fraud on the American people” in promising that people would be able to keep their current health insurance if they liked it.
Millions of people have recently learned that their insurance is being cancelled because their policy doesn’t meet the standards set by the new law. And while the president has apologized for the broken promise, Perry said it’s not “even close enough.”
Still, Perry doesn’t think the Affordable Care Act should be completely thrown out.
“There are probably parts of the law that were wise and smart,” he said. “That's the reason it needs to be opened back up. You know, work with the parts of it that make sense.”
When it comes to winning the White House in 2016, Perry voiced skepticism that Gov. Chris Christie’s broad appeal in New Jersey will translate into votes nationwide.
“Is a conservative in New Jersey a conservative in the rest of the country?” he said. “I'm just saying that we'll have that discussion at the appropriate time.”
As for his own plans in 2016, Perry said he’s keeping the door open for a possible run.
“It’s an option up there,” he said. “I'm the governor of Texas until January of 2015. After that time, we'll make a decision about what the future holds for us.”
For more of the interview with Perry, including whether he thinks Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis has a shot at filling his seat as governor, check out this episode of “The Fine Print.”
ABC News’ Alexandra Dukakis and Gary Westphalen contributed to this episode.
Larry Falk, Jay Enyart, Richard Bowring and John Hansen assisted in production.