A week after his nationally watched indictment for misusing his authority and days after his police mugshot was beamed around the world, Texas Gov. Rick Perry sounded every inch a Republican presidential candidate Thursday afternoon with a hard-hitting speech on the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists.
Speaking to a standing-room-only audience at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Perry laid the lash of his remarks on the Obama administration for what he called a U.S. "pullout [from Iraq] driven by political calculations, not strategic calculations."
The resulting moves by the militant ISIS group, said the Texan, are a "terrorist blitzkrieg," and that the people of a democratic Iraq "need to see more of us."
Coming on the heels of a panel on the immigration crisis in the United States that he has long been identified with, Perry's remarks at Heritage focusing on terrorism and foreign policy were a surprise. They came a day before he is scheduled to arrive in New Hampshire, site of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
Perry will speak in Nashua, Merrimac (where he will be featured at an event at the home of former GOP Sen. Gordon Humphrey), and on the seacoast (where Perry will be introduced by former New Hampshire Gov. and onetime Bush (George H.W.) White House Chief of Staff John Sununu.
"All of the Granite State Republicans have rallied around Gov. Perry," Ryan Williams, consultant to the New Hampshire Republican Party, told Newsmax, "We recognize the unconstitutional indictment and the strength and courage Gov. Perry has demonstrated in dealing with it."
In his remarks in Washington, Perry warned that ISIS is "better-financed than al-Qaida ever was and has designs on Jordan." He specifically called for arming the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, whom he hailed as "a well-trained disciplined militia" of Iraqi Kurdistan. What they need, he said, is "airlifts to deliver the best possible weapons to confront, overpower and defeat this enemy."
Echoing the warning of U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond that the executioner of American photojournalist James Foley was British, Perry asked "how many other jihadists are there carrying British passports?" He also warned that the specter of ISIS terrorists in the U.S. was not far-fetched.
"A great concern is that the [Southern] border is insecure and we don't know who's using it," said Perry, adding that there were three Ukrainian individuals who were in the U.S. illegally and caught in Texas in the last 60 days, "Individuals from ISIS or other terrorist states may have already used [the border]. Your common sense tells you that."
Perry did stop short of calling for sending U.S. combat troops back into Iraq, but didn't rule it out. In his words, "all of your options have to be open… signaling what you're not going to put on the table is very, very important."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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