Perry was responding to Mark White, who as governor in the '80s was a staunch death penalty supporter, but said last week that it may be time to do away with it to ensure that the state did not execute an innocent person.
White, in turn, was speaking in the context of a fast-growing controversy over Perry's handling of a state panel that's probing a flawed arson investigation which may well have led to the execution of an innocent man.
Perry, a Republican, signed off on the 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, despite of flaws in the investigation. Perry now has failed to reappoint several members of the panel that's looking into the case, triggering allegations that he is trying to stymie the inquiry.
Perry's top opponent for the 2010 GOP gubernatorial nomination, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, has seized on the issue to slam Perry. But not for likely executing an innocent man, then trying to obstruct an investigation into the matter. No, the problem, said Hutchison in a recent statement, is that Perry might have undermined support for the death penalty:
The only thing Rick Perry's actions have accomplished is giving liberals an argument to discredit the death penalty. We should never do anything to create a cloud of controversy over it with actions that look like a cover-up.