Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry sought to play up his pro-military, pro-veteran credentials, calling President Barack Obama “a young, relatively inexperienced United States senator” who lacked the executive experience needed to effectively lead the country on the national stage.
“It ain’t going to take me nine months to figure out how to deal with ISIS,” Perry told about 300 people Monday inside the aircraft carrier Yorktown at Patriots Point.
Perry said Obama’s foreign policy is more affected by his hopes to deal with Iran on a nuclear agreement than in staying true to U.S. allies in the region.
“This president is so dead set on signing an agreement with Iran that he will put a lot of our allies in jeopardy,” Perry said during his one-hour town hall.
This was Perry’s first tour of South Carolina since announcing his second run for the White House last week. He is the 10th Republican in the race and is one of several governors or ex-governors likely to be in the GOP field.
Monday night’s appearance on the Yorktown, where he privately toured the Medal of Honor Museum beforehand, was also his most overt appeal to veterans in the state. He said one of his priorities if elected is making sure the Department of Veterans Affairs operates with greater efficiency.
“If you elect me your president, I’ll be making some pretty strong inquiries and I’ll be making sure our men and women who have served our country are taken care of,” he said.
Perry, who served in the Air Force, is one of only two GOP candidates who were in the military. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was in the Air Force as well.
Perry was accompanied by about 10 accomplished military veterans, including Marcus Luttrell, a retired Navy SEAL and author of “Lone Survivor,” and South Carolina Medal of Honor recipient Mike Thornton.
Perry hit his traditional themes of being anti-tax and pro-deregulation, though he said Wall Street banks caught up in the collapse of 2008 should have been allowed to go into bankruptcy rather than get a government bailout.
He also addressed government overreach, speaking directly to U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., who had stopped by to watch from the crowd, and calling him “Mark.” He told Sanford that he bet he had a better idea of the pulse of the state when he was South Carolina’s governor, “than some bureaucrat in Washington.”
Perry said he was optimistic about the nation’s future if a Republican can get in the White House.
“Heck, we made it through Jimmy Carter, we’ll get through Barack Obama,” he said. “I promise.”
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551