The Washington Post

Rick Perry on Iraq: ‘I think all your options have to be open’

In a speech at the Heritage Foundation, Gov. Rick Perry (R-Tex.), slammed the Obama administration's use of "limited" airstrikes in Iraq in response to the Islamic State. He proposed a new course of action involving "overwhelming force." (The Heritage Foundation)

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) on Thursday made his first public appearance in Washington since being indicted on two felony counts, calling for President Obama to ramp up U.S. military engagement in Iraq and delivering a scathing critique of the administration's immigration policies during a speech at a conservative think tank.

Perry criticized U.S. officials, who he said have been very careful to label strikes against Islamist militant extremists in Iraq as "limited."

"More airstrikes are necessary," he told a jam-packed auditorium at the Heritage Foundation. In a speech that was billed as a talk on immigration and border security, Perry unexpectedly devoted much of his time to discussing Iraq.

He sharply criticized Islamic State militants who posted a video this week of their brutal execution of a kidnapped American photojournalist. Perry expressed concerns that the militant who spoke in the video had Western roots.

"How many other jihadists out there are carrying Western passports?" he asked.

Asked whether ground combat troops should be deployed to Iraq, Perry said nothing should be ruled out.

"I think all your options have to be open," he said.

Perry said there is a "very real possibility" that extremists from the group ISIS have "already" entered the U.S. through the Southwestern border. But, he added, "We have no clear evidence of that."

The speech was Perry's first public appearance in the nation's capital since being indicted by a grand jury last Friday. He pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that he abused the power of his office when he vetoed funding to an anti-corruption agency that operates under the Travis County district attorney's office. Perry had made good on a threat to veto $7.5 million after Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg (D) refused to resign after a 2013 drunk driving arrest.

The governor confidently vowed to fight the charges Thursday, which he labeled an "attack on our system of governance."

Perry took just two questions, one of which was about his indictment. He pointed to widespread commentary that the charges appeared to be flimsy as evidence they amount a political attack against him.

On immigration, Perry accused the president of both a "willful neglect" of his duty to tighten security on the U.S.-Mexico border and an "overreach" in using his executive powers to alter immigration regulations. The governor insisted that any talk of reforming immigration laws must come only after the border is secure.

"Defending the border is not a political option. It's a constitutional obligation," Perry said.

The remarks on immigration come at the tail end of a summer when state and federal officials were faced with an influx of undocumented minors on the Southwestern border. They also come as Obama is weighing new executive actions to potentially allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain in the United States.

Perry is is headed to New Hampshire to address conservative activists on Friday and Saturday, as he weighs another run for president. He will travel to South Carolina next week.

Updated at 4:37 p.m. ​

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Be a man and cry
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Sleep advice you won't find in baby books
Play Videos
Drawing as an act of defiance
A flood of refugees from Syria but only a trickle to America
Chicago's tacos, four ways
Play Videos
What you need to know about filming the police
What you need to know about trans fats
Syrian refugee: 'I’m committed to the power of music'
Play Videos
Riding the X2 with D.C.'s most famous rapper
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
Europe's migrant crisis, explained
Next Story
Sean Sullivan · August 21, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.