Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) mingles at a pork roast in Rochester, N.H. (Sean Sullivan/The Washington Post)

ROCHESTER, N.H. -- Here in the home town of James Foley, the photojournalist who was beheaded by the Islamic State militant group, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) called Saturday for the United States to aggressively confront extremist militants in Iraq and praised the slain American for embodying "what courage is all about."

"He went into a dangerous part of the world to shine a bright light into dark places," Perry said. "It was a very important job that James Foley was engaged in."

The governor said the United States must forcefully address the threat posed by Islamist militants in Iraq.

"They are now stronger than al-Qaeda  ever was," he said. "We've come to one of those moments in history where American action will be decisive and inaction will be consequential."

Perry made his remarks at  a "Defend Freedom" pork roast hosted by Concerned Veterans For America, a group backed the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers. With the smell of pork and baked beans filling the air, Perry shook hands and posed for photos with veterans. He told reporters that he did not visit Foley's family in Rochester out of respect for their privacy.

He will wrap up a two-day swing through the state Saturday afternoon at a picnic hosted by the Merrimack County Republican Party. 

The trip is Perry's first to New Hampshire since January 2012, when his campaign came to a disappointing end shortly after he received less than 1 percent of the vote here.

Perry is considering running for president again in 2016. During his trip here, he has been giving sweeping policy speeches on business and foreign policy. He has also met with local GOP groups, business leaders, veterans and local politicians running for office and encouraging Republicans to vote in the midterm elections.

Former New Hampshire governor John H. Sununu introduced Perry at a New Hampshire Republican Party rally Saturday morning where activists mingled over donuts and coffee. The governor challenged the crowd to campaign hard for Republican candidates this fall.

"We're going to change the trajectory -- not just of New Hampshire -- but the trajectory of America," he vowed.

Perry is under indictment on felony charges that he abused the power of his office and tried to coerce an elected official to resign. The charges, viewed by the conservative base as politically motivated and unwarranted, have reignited support for the governor from conservative activists and officials across the country. He has pleaded not guilty.

"If [Democratic Gov.] Maggie Hassan doesn't condemn it, if the Hillary Clintons of the world don't condemn it, they're disqualified from being chief executives," Sununu said of the charges as the crowd erupted in applause.