Former Texas Governor Rick Perry had just one nice comment to share about the Obama administration and its foreign policy: we've survived worse. In his Friday morning speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference Perry focused on international affairs, hitting the notes that have become familiar during the conference: support for Israel, calling the Islamic State Islamic, and condemning talks with Iran.
"Here's the simple truth about our foreign policy: our allies doubt us, and our adversaries are all too willing to test us," Perry said. "No one should be surprised that dictators like [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad would cross the president's red line, because he knows that the president won't even defend the line that separates our nation from Mexico."
The governor outlined three points he planned to make: first, America's government was failing a test of leadership. Second, conservatives must be a "great agent of reform," and third, America's best days are ahead of it. The country's experiment in a Republican form of government is too durable to be "sidetracked by one confused administration," he said, arguing that there are worse circumstances than America under Obama.
"We had a civil war in this country. We had two World Wars. We had a Great Depression. We even survived Jimmy Carter," he said. "We will survive the Obama years, too."
Perry also continued the trend of CPAC speakers with presidential ambitions knocking President Obama's refusal to describe the Islamic State as a religious group (he referred to it as "a religious movement that seeks to take the world back to the seventh century"), and argued that American negotiations with Iran should come after two non-negotiable terms: Iran shouldn't be allowed to have nuclear weapons period, and Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state.
On the domestic front, Perry called the unemployment rate a "sham" that leaves millions of Americans unaccounted for, and called on the administration to lower the corporate tax rate "to lift up middle class wages." In response to a question about climate change and "securing America’s energy future," Perry said that "whether you believe in this whole concept of climate change or not … you can have job creation and you can make your environment better." (The crowd didn’t respond to that, but cheered when he added "open up the XL pipeline.")
He also repeated the story of the time he met with the president last year and said "Mr. President, if you don't secure this border, Texas will." The encounter came up after a moderator asked Perry what he would do, in the White House, about illegal immigration.
"If you do not secure the border first, you can't have a conversation about immigration reform," Perry said. "There are a lot of interesting ideas on the table out there, but not until we secure the border first."