Perry presses for greater US involvement in Iraq

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

Perry presses for greater US involvement in Iraq
Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks about US President Barack Obama's handling of the situation in Iraq and the US immigration crisis along the border, at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, August 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 21: Republican Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, delivers the keynote address at a Heritage Foundation event titled 'The Border Crisis and New Politics of Immigration,' August 21, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks about US President Barack Obama's handling of the situation in Iraq and the US immigration crisis along the border, at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, August 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 21: Republican Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, delivers the keynote address at a Heritage Foundation event titled 'The Border Crisis and New Politics of Immigration,' August 21, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 21: Republican Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, arrives to deliver the keynote address at a Heritage Foundation event titled 'The Border Crisis and New Politics of Immigration,' August 21, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks about US President Barack Obama's handling of the situation in Iraq and the US immigration crisis along the border, at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, August 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Texas Governor Rick Perry arrives to speak about US President Barack Obama's handling of the situation in Iraq and the US immigration crisis along the border, at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, August 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - AUGUST 19: Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to the media after turning himself in to authorities at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center on August 19, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last Friday on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - AUGUST 19: Texas Governor Rick Perry bids farewell after speaking to the media after turning himself in to authorities at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center on August 19, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last Friday on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry gestures as he speaks at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, about that he would be open to sending U.S. combat forces to Iraq to fight the deadly Islamic state after its attacks on a Christian minority and the beheading of an American journalist and border security. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, that he would be open to sending U.S. combat forces to Iraq to fight the deadly Islamic State after its attacks on a Christian minority and the beheading of an American journalist. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


By DONNA CASSATA

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday pressed for a more aggressive U.S. military response in Iraq to combat Islamic state militants, including a sustained air campaign, and signaled he would support sending American ground troops.

"We need to have all of our options open," Perry told a standing-room-only crowd at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

The potential 2016 presidential candidate dismissed the "limited" air strikes that President Barack Obama has ordered as insufficient as the U.S. tries to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces regain control of large sections of Iraq.

Perry also faulted Obama for not providing arms to Syrian rebels battling forces loyal to President Bashar Assad early on in the three-year-old civil war. He derided Obama's insistence that "Assad must go" as "an opinion, not a policy."

In adopting a hawkish stance, Perry is staking a position that many in the Republican Party have moved away from after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, a reflection of a war-weary nation. His call for greater American involvement in Iraq and regrets about Syria also puts him at odds with possible presidential rival Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and number of other GOP conservatives.

Perry's openness to combat forces places him to the right of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., one of the loudest critics of Obama's policies and a fierce defense hawk who opposes any "significant" deployment of boots on the ground.

Perry acknowledged the mistake of the U.S. invasion of Iraq by his predecessor - President George W. Bush - and spoke of the politically driven decision to withdraw U.S. forces in 2011. He said Republicans and Democrats should not be hemmed in by history in fighting the Islamic state militants.

Perry came to Washington to deliver a speech that Heritage billed as a discussion of immigration, but the governor, who has tangled with the administration on U.S. border security policy, devoted much of his talk to national security.

His appearance came a week after he was indicted by a grand jury in Austin on charges stemming from his veto last summer of state funds for public corruption prosecutors. He pleaded not guilty on Tuesday shortly after he was fingerprinted and had his mug shot taken.

Perry shrugged off the pair of indictments, saying he was "very confident" in his case and quoting Democratic pundits who have suggested the charges were politically motivated.

Perry, whose 2012 presidential bid collapsed under the weight of his gaffes, is testing his political viability. He is heading to New Hampshire, the first in the nation primary state, for two days and then traveling to South Carolina next week.

In his speech, Perry described the militants as one of the most serious threats to Americans after attacks on a Christian minority and the beheading of an American journalist.

He also raised the prospect of members of the Islamic state crossing the U.S. -Mexico border, which he said is too porous because of inaction by Obama.

"We have a vital stake here, reluctant as we might be," he said.

On immigration, Perry dismissed any discussion of comprehensive immigration reform that is stalled in Congress, saying the border must be secured first. He said Obama has a constitutional obligation to protect the border.

Related video on AOL.com:

TX Gov Perry in Washington: 'Confident' in Case


More AOL Content:
Texas jury turns in verdict in hit- and-run case
Strange twist in NY Amish girls' abduction case

Read Full Story

People are Reading

The Latest from our Partners
1 - 3 of 15