Democrat denounces 'denigrating a sister state'
Friday, January 31, 2003 Posted: 11:19 AM EST (1619 GMT)
JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry is known for his fondness for cowboy boots. But he might be reminded not to step on toes.
"I don't want to become Mississippi," Perry recently told The Dallas Morning News, citing the state's problems with transportation, economic development and education. The comment prompted an invitation that was more diplomatic barb than Southern hospitality.
"We elected officials in Mississippi are of the opinion that denigrating a sister state is not statesmanlike conduct," Mississippi House Speaker Tim Ford told Perry in a two-page letter. "I invite you to come visit us to learn more about Mississippi."
Ford, a Democrat, told the Republican governor he didn't want to launch "an achievement contest," but mentioned a $1.5 billion Nissan plant opening this year in Mississippi and said state lawmakers are working on a comprehensive education package.
Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt said the governor had not received a copy of Ford's letter.
"His comments certainly were not meant to cast any bad light on the state or its citizens," Walt said. "His father-in-law is a Mississippi native."
Ford forwarded copies of the letter to reporters and several public officials, including the U.S. senators from both states and a former Texas governor -- President Bush.