Texas Governor Rick Perry, speaking in the home state of a recently killed American journalist, repeated his assertion that Islamic State militants may have crossed a “porous” border between the U.S. and Mexico.
“There already may be ISIS cells -- ISIS individuals -- in America,” Perry said during a meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, with business men and women. “We don’t know. They may have used our southern border, because it’s porous.”
Perry, who is considering a second presidential campaign, said the U.S. needs military-style drones and more troops to help secure the border.
“The border is not secure,” Perry said, adding there have been “too many instances” of rapes, murders and assaults committed by undocumented immigrants. “We know that, you know that.”
Perry, 64, has campaign-style events today and tomorrow in New Hampshire, the home of James Foley, whose beheading in the Middle East by IS militants was shown in a graphic video released this week. Referring to the killing, Perry said the crisis in the Middle East “has been brought right to your doorstep” by the images.
Perry is also scheduled to visit Iowa and South Carolina, which, along with New Hampshire, hold the earliest presidential nominating contests.
The governor is making his trips after his Aug. 15 indictment on abuse-of-power charges in Texas. He is accused of overstepping his gubernatorial authority by threatening to veto the budget for a public-corruption office unless the Democratic prosecutor who led the unit quit. Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who had been convicted of drunken driving, refused to resign, and Perry cut the funding.
As Perry was speaking, his lawyers in a Texas state court said his prosecution on the two felony counts violates his constitutional free-speech rights and his power under the state constitution.
David Botsford, Perry’s lawyer, said today at an initial court hearing in Austin that he will file a request to stop the prosecution on constitutional grounds.
Michael McCrum, a special prosecutor, said he’s confident of the law in the case and promised to defend it.
“I’m going to fight this with every fiber of my being,” Perry said. “It’s not lost on me how important this is for our country.”
Perry was warmly received by about 30 bankers, real estate agents and other business men and women. Several said they give him the benefit of the doubt on the indictment, and that he deserved a second chance after his failed presidential campaign in 2012.
“I really felt that he was speaking from the heart, and you could see him thinking and really looking you in the eye,” said Rick Greenwood, a 63-year-old retiree. “That connection is everything.”
Perry said the next president needed to “fight for us” and restore Americans’ faith in government, from town councils to Washington.
“I want the people in Ferguson, Missouri, to have faith that their local government is there to protect them, and not to intimidate them,” Perry said, referring to the violence and protests that followed the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer.
Perry said Missouri Governor Jay Nixon needed to find a “real balance” to calm the St. Louis suburb.
“You can’t just go run up and down the streets and create mayhem,” Perry said. “The other side of that is you cannot, you don’t crush a fly with a sledgehammer.”