Former Texas Governor Rick Perry appeared before the Iowa Freedom Summit this weekend to reveal his agenda for a possible run for the 2016 GOP nomination for president. With harsh words for the “immoral” national debt that Obama has created, Perry’s high-energy message was centered on the economy and jobs, but he also excoriated Obama’s failed foreign policy.
Minutes after he bounded onto the stage, Perry celebrated the grassroots effort to restore American freedoms represented by those in attendance. Perry energetically said that freedom is “god’s gift to mankind and America’s gift to the world.”
Remarking on how our pursuit of freedom was at the heart of the reasons we have sent our young soldiers to protect people around the world, Perry proclaimed that “America is and always will be the last great hope of the free world.”
With that intro, the former Texas Gov. began an excoriation of Obama’s economic record saying that freedom has become “imperiled at home” and “threatened by big government.” He then went on to deliver a long list of Obama’s failures, including millions of lost jobs, the destruction of the business sector, and an “immoral,” high national debt.
Noting that the 2014 midterm elections went a long way to change course in the nation, Perry continued saying that voters “said enough” to Obama’s failed policies. “The American people made a clean break from the economic policies that have slowed our growth at home and I might add the foreign policies that have weakened our standing abroad. And I’ve got a feeling that after six years of disappointment, of mediocrity and decline, a slow course correction is NOT what voters are going to be looking for in 2016.”
To the cheers of the audience, Perry then admitted that he is “thinking a little about 2016” and noted that the country is sick of the partisan bickering on both sides. Americans want “results, not rhetoric,” he said.
“I’m here today to say this it’s not good enough for conservatives to be just an opposition force. We gotta offer a vision for the future,” Perry said as he laid out the key points of his pro-growth agenda that he proclaimed would be a “new era of prosperity, of reform and revival.”
Perry laid out several steps to this revival, the first of which was to authorize the Keystone XL Pipeline and also included opening up our energy resources, making energy cheaper for Americans.
“We can begin by unleashing the American arsenal of energy,” he said to the applause of the crowd.
“You know, the whole Obama energy policy? It amounts to this long list of projects that we can’t begin, permits that we can’t grant, studies that we can’t conclude, and resources we can’t use, that’s their policy,” he said.
“It would be tragic if [Obama] continues to play to his political base instead of revving up our economic base.”
Like many of the others that appeared at the Iowa forum, Perry said he feels that tax reform is a must to return the nation to its former economic glory. He wants to reform the tax code, lower the corporate tax rate, and “stop strangling small business with over regulation.”
“I want the folks on Main Street and not just the folks on Wall Street to be able to make a living in this market,” Perry said.
He then ticked off the number of “runaway federal agencies” that have been holding the country back by issuing a long list of regulations that are killing jobs, our businesses and the economy.
“We’ve got to be honest with the American people about the immoral debt that’s being forced upon the next generation. No great nation has ever taxed and spent its way to prosperity. Never. Let’s get our fiscal house in order,” the Governor roared.
“We have a so-called recovery,” Perry said, “that’s weighted down by this massive bureaucracy, crippling regulations, archaic tax laws, and record debt. And the only way that we’re going to unleash it is to make major economic and fiscal reforms.”
This set the table for Perry to tout his record of jobs creation.
“You see, in the last fourteen years, Texas has created almost one third of all the new jobs in America. Think about that. If you just look at the last seven years alone, starting in December of 2007 you’ll see that 1.4 million jobs were created in my home state. And at the same time, the rest of the country lost 400,000 jobs.”
Perry then segued into the border crisis and foreign policy. Noting that Obama was in Texas on “a very important mission to Dallas raising money for needy Democrats,” Perry recounted how he invited the President to go to the Rio Grande Valley so that he could see the damage his immigration policies had caused.
The former governor railed at Obama’s policies of allowing hundreds of thousands of “unaccompanied minors” to cross the border. Perry accused the president of allowing these poor children to become victims of gangs and sex traffickers.
Perry next trumpeted his record of taking action on the border where Obama refused to do so. But it wasn’t just Obama who has failed at the border, Perry said. Congress has also failed to live up to its duties to protect the nation.
“We need to send a message to Congress,” Perry said his voice rising in urgency. “Secure the border now. Override this President’s lawless executive order. Restore law and order to our border with Mexico. Stand up to this face of evil and protect our citizens.”
But just as Perry was receiving the applause of the audience, a few protesters supporting illegal immigration broke into the room and began to harass him. Even as protestors tried to disrupt the speech, Perry powered right through them with a shift to foreign policy insisting that, “this administration has chosen to abandon our friends and weaken our alliances. That’s what this president’s doing.”
The house erupted in sustained cheers almost as much in an attempt to shut down the Dreamer protesters as to support Perry’s contention.
Perry said, “that’s the face of America. This is why we live in America today. To be able to stand up and tell our government to do what WE want to do. That’s what we elected them for.”
After the Dreamers were done, the last few minutes of Perry’s speech was often more forcefully punctuated.
The governor continued with several points on foreign policy including his advice that America continue to “stand steadfast with Israel” and that the country should elect a leader that offers strong leadership for the world.
Perry averred that ISIS and the other enemies we face in the Middle East only respond to strength. Interestingly, though, despite that many conservatives have been attacking Obama for refusing to use the term “Islamist terror,” Perry also never used the words Muslim or Islam. He called our enemies in the Mid East “radicalized” and “brutal terrorists,” but he never mentioned any root ideology by which these terrorists might be motivated.
Still, speaking of Obama’s bluster with Syria–that infamous “red line” that Bashar Assad simply ignored–Perry said, “When a president makes promises that he won’t back up his statements are not a policy. They are just an opinion. And the world pays attention realizing that they can test both our strength and our resolve. These brutal terrorists do not respect talk. They only respect force.”
Perry did, however, say that when we jettison our own culture we lose to the terrorists.
“What is at stake here is no less than the preservation of western values,” Perry said wrapping up his theme. “And what is required is not moral confusion but moral clarity. And it matters that we understand all of this for one reason. Without confidence in the truth and goodness of our own values the great moral inheritance of our own culture, how are we going to deal with the falsehood of theirs?”
“And let me tell you that what happened in Paris reminds us that this is not a rhetorical question. This is a simple fact. When it comes to the western world fighting this great threat this administration needs to stop leading from behind,” he said.
Coming to the end of his appeal, Perry said:
What’s needed at this time in history is a clear vision for the world with American leading again and freedom on the march again on the most pressing issues of our time. From jobs to energy security to national security, we don’t have to settle for the present state of decline.
Perry noted all the things he is proud that the USA stands for and finished his address saying, “You know, there’s nothing wrong in America today that can’t be fixed with new leadership. The next two years are about hope and revival and a vision to restore America’s place in the world. America is looking for a new path forward and starting today, right here in Iowa, let’s give it to them!”
The governor was rewarded by a very healthy standing ovation from an Iowa crowd that seemed to very much enjoy what might be his first stump speech of the 2016 campaign.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org