Texas Gov. Rick Perry hammered President Obama's energy and immigration policies Wednesday and berated him for not holding a welcome-home parade to salute the U.S. soldiers who served during the war in Iraq over the past nine years.
"It really disturbs me that nearly after nine years of war in Iraq that this president wouldn't welcome home our many heroes with a simple parade in their honor," the 2012 Republican presidential candidate told nearly 100 members of the Westside Conservative Club.
"Maybe it's because this war is unpopular with Democrats, I don't know. But, Mr. President, our soldiers come first and it comes before party politics. We need to welcome our soldiers home -- give them that parade, give them that pat on the back, tell them thank you for the freedom that we have in this country," Perry told the suburban crowd during a stop on his central Iowa bus tour on Wednesday.
The Texas governor, who is waging a come-from-behind effort to finish strong in Tuesday's first-in-the-nation Iowa precinct caucuses, touted himself as the "outsider" who will change the "out of touch" and "dysfunctional" culture in the nation's capital.
"It's going to take an anti-establishment outsider who's willing to step on a few toes," said Perry, who pushed constitutional amendments to balance the federal budget and establish a part-time Congress -- efforts that likely would not come to fruition until the end of his second term in 2020 if successful. "That will change the culture in Washington D.C.," he said.
The Texas governor called for opening up "federal lands and waters" for energy production and a pipeline that would boost oil imports from Canada as a way to address domestic energy concerns and reduce dependence on foreign oil. He contrasted that with the current administration's policies that listens to "radical, leftist environmentalists" and promotes an "activist" Environmental Protection Agency that pushes "job killing" regulations that he would end.
Perry -- who was joined by Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County in Arizona -- also criticized federal inaction to curb illegal immigration, pledging that by January 2014 he would "shut down" the border with Mexico and make it secure.
The Texas governor has had some high-profile gaffes during televised debates with his GOP rivals, but it was Arpaio who misspoke Wednesday when he said he was getting to know Iowans and then called them "Buckeyes." Perry told Arpaio "you know how to get Iowans riled up" and noted that "you're not going to live that one down for awhile."
Perry closed the hour-long campaign stop by urging Iowa Republicans to "join me on this mission" next Tuesday evening when they caucus at their local precincts.
"Why should you settle for anything less than an authentic conservative who's going to fight for your views and your values without apology? You've got to ask yourself: If we replace a Democratic insider with a Republican insider, who you really think that things will change in Washington," he said in making his closing sales pitch.
"You don't have to resign yourself to voting for the wasteful Washington spending culture," Perry added. "I'm here to say you've got a choice. I'm the outsider that will go in and give Washington a complete overhaul."
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