SAN DIEGO – Texas Gov. Rick Perry delivered a forceful denunciation of President Obama’s domestic and foreign policies on Friday, telling members of the Republican National Committee, “There’s nothing wrong in America that can’t be fixed with a change in leadership.”
Pointing toward a second run for the White House after a disastrous effort in 2012, Perry was withering in his criticism of the president for failing to attend the massive solidarity march against terrorism in Paris last Sunday that featured leaders from around the world.
Perry recalled the huge receptions Obama enjoyed in Europe as a candidate in 2008. “Fast-forward with me about seven years,” he said. “Leaders of the Western world gathered in the streets of Paris and our president was nowhere to be found. When leaders of the world gather to stand against terrorism, the president of the United States needs to be there. He needs to be standing on the front row.”
Perry was the third prospective presidential candidate to address the RNC meeting this week, following appearances by Dr. Ben Carson and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and was better received by the committee members than either of the others. He was interrupted by applause frequently and used cadence, modulation and humor to enhance his performance.
Perry’s speech preceded by about six hours an evening address by 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, in what was to be his first public appearance since his surprise declaration a week ago that he is seriously considering a third presidential campaign.
The Texas governor’s speech was heavy on foreign policy themes. He said Islamic State extremists threaten western civilization and argued that the terrorists only recognize and respond to strength on the part of western nations. “What’s required is not moral confusion but moral clarity,” he said.
Perry also focused on the economy and energy as he touted the record of his 14 years as governor of Texas. He will step down in four days. “I know this will surprise you, but I’ve been thinking a lot about 2016," he told the audience.
Perry claimed that one third of all private sector jobs created in the United States during his time in office were in Texas. He said low taxes, limited regulation and tort reform contributed to the favorable economic climate in his state.
“What’s happening in Texas is not a miracle, because miracles cannot be explained. This can,” he said. “What has happened in Texas can be explained. It can happen anywhere in America."
He also castigated Washington on immigration, saying the federal government has neglected to fulfill its responsibility to secure the border. “The situation at the border is not all the president’s fault,” he said. “The fact is Congress should’ve acted many years ago. But the answer isn’t an executive order to bypass Congress. The answer is to work with Congress to secure the border.”
He pointed to his own actions on both immigration and the threat of Ebola inside the United States, tweaking Obama in the process. “Maybe the president just wanted to give me a head start on doing federal duties,” he said.