Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Rick Perry

  • 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
  • Texas Governor (2000-2015)

Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.

Rick Perry is a former governor of Texas who twice ran unsuccessfully for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, in 2016 and 2012. Donald Trump nominated Perry to head the Energy Department shortly after his November 2016 election victory, a move that was widely criticized because of Perry’s hostility to the department, which he once argued should be eliminated. Observers have also expressed concern over Perry’s refusal to “accept the scientific consensus on the importance of reducing carbon emissions to slow the impact of human-induced climate change,” which they argue make him unsuitable for the post of secretary of energy. Perry has also staked out extreme view on foreign policy, defending the use of torture, arguing against the Iran nuclear agreement, and ridiculing detente with Cuba.

2016 Presidential Campaign

Perry announced his intention to run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination in June 2015; he dropped out a few months later, in September 2015.

He entered the 2016 conteest as a reputed “national-security stalwart,” promoting an “assertive American foreign policy against ISIS in the Middle East and Vladimir Putin in Eastern Europe.”[2] Perry’s hawkish positions echoed those of other GOP candidates, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). The Atlantic’s neoconservative contributor David Frum lauded Perry on foreign policy, saying that was an “alternative to the neo-isolationist approach championed by Sen. Rand Paul.”[3]

After dropping out of the 2016 primary, Perry publicly came out in support of fellow Texan Ted Cruz. He also repeatedly criticized Donald Trump, whom Perry likened to a fire-breathing dragon.

During the campaign, Perry defended the use of torture, called for “providing lethal aid” to Ukraine to use against Russian-backed separatists, and stated that American ground forces would have to be deployed against ISIS in Iraq.[4]  He also lambasted President Obama’s diplomatic efforts to peacefully resolve the Iranian nuclear dispute, stating that his “very first act as president will be to rescind any agreement with Iran that legitimizes their quest to get a nuclear weapon.”[5] Perry also claimed that the White House’s efforts at détente with Cuba “empowered the Castro regime with no thought of the Cuban people.”[6]

A harsh critic of President Obama’s foreign policy and an opponent of immigration reform, Perry contended that “no one should be surprised that dictators like Assad would cross the president’s red line because he knows the president won’t even defend the line that separates our nation from Mexico.”[7]

Perry’s decision to launch a 2016 presidential campaign was made inspite of a then-ongoing criminal investigation in Texas for his 2013 attempt to oust a county district attorney who was investigating public corruption. Mother Jones reported in June 2015: “Last August, a grand jury indicted Perry for abusing his power as governor. Perry has repeatedly requested that judges dismiss the case, only to be rebuked as the allegations progress toward a trial—one that could play out during the heat of the GOP primaries.”[1] The charges against him were eventually dropped.

2012 Presidential Campaign

In August 2011, after he announced his candidacy for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Perry catapulted to the head of the Republican primary race. However, a series of high profile gaffes severely damaged his campaign and in January 2012, after poor showings in early primaries, Perry announced he was dropping out the campaign. He said he would throw his support behind Newt Gingrich, the main remaining rival to Mitt Romney for the nomination.

Among Perry’s weaknesses as a presidential candidate during the 2012 campaign was his poor comprehension of U.S. foreign policy. His campaign website offered only brief, vague remarks on foreign policy, including a common conservative refrain that Perry rejected “the notion our president should apologize for our country but instead believes allies and adversaries alike must know that America seeks peace from a position of strength.”[8]

Perry made headlines with a September 2011 speech to conservative Jewish leaders, during which he said: “Well, obviously, Israel is our oldest and most stable democratic ally in that region. That is what this is about. I also as a Christian have a clear directive to support Israel. So from my perspective, it’s pretty easy. Both as an American and as a Christian, I am going to stand with Israel.”[9] Few mainstream politicians—despite widespread support for Israel—couch their language in such stark biblical terms.

Although the speech drew predictable support from neoconservatives and other “pro-Israel” figures like Devon Gaffney Cross of Secure America Now, it was heavily criticized by many observers. William Saletan, in a scathing piece for Slate.com, wrote: “Bush never said he had a Christian duty to stand with Israel, because to say such a thing would have been stupid and dangerous. By framing U.S. foreign policy in terms of a religious alliance between Christians and Jews, Perry is validating the propaganda of Islamic extremists. He’s jeopardizing peace, Israel, and the United States … [and] he has vindicated Bin Laden’s narrative.”[10]

Blogger Andrew Sullivan also lambasted Perry’s “theological foreign policy,” calling the Texas governor “Bush without the sophistication or conscience.” Sullivan wrote: “In that sense, Perry is the best thing for Jihadism in a very long time.”[11]

Daniel Larison of The American Conservative attacked Perry not for his Christian-based support for Israel (“this is a common view among a significant number of evangelical and other Christians, and Perry has made a concerted effort to identify himself as one of these people”), but rather because “Perry takes it as a tenet of his faith that he ought to endorse a particularly close relationship with another state. The ‘clear directive’ doesn’t leave room for considerations of national interest or chaged circumstances. That suggests that he would support that relationship in its current form no matter how costly it might become to the U.S., and it would mean that there is virtually nothing that an Israeli government could do that would make him change his position.”[12]

In a separate blog post discussing Perry’s claim that the Obama administration was “appeasing the Palestinians,” Larison wrote that “Perry is going to treat anything that Obama has done or failed to do on these issues as appeasement, because the accusation of appeasement is the inevitable line of attack that he and other Republicans are always going to use when it comes to policy on Israel and Palestine. Accusations of appeasement are very much like accusations of ‘isolationism,’ and their utility comes from how wildly inaccurate and inappropriate they are. If Obama reiterated and briefly took seriously standing U.S. policy on settlement-building on occupied territory, to take one example, that will be lumped in as an example of appeasement. The goal is obviously not to describe the policy or even to contest the policy on its merits, but to define it as a policy that is supposedly both treacherous and weak, which then allows it to be dismissed out of hand.”[13]

Perry showed signs of a “pro-Israel,” neoconservative bent early in his bid. Before he had even announced his campaign, in addition to criticizing President Obama’s handling of the U.S.-Israel relationship, Perry wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling for the arrest of all U.S. citizens “found to be in violation of U.S. law by their participation in” the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. It was soon after revealed that Perry had held a foreign policy briefing with Bush-era hardliners Douglas Feith and William Luti, as well as with neoconservative pundit Andrew McCarthy. Politico reported that the briefing had been convened by Donald Rumsfeld.[14] (For more, see Right Web, “Perry’s Neocon Clues,” July 22, 2011.)

Despite his views on the U.S.-Israeli relationship, Perry did not won over all neoconservatives. For instance, the Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin repeatedly attacked Perry, calling him—according to a report by Politico—”sleepy,” “hostile,” “dreadful,” “provincial,” “cloying,” and “buffoon.” According to Politico’s Ben Smith, “Rubin, caustic and single-minded, has proven immune to the usual approaches from Perry’s staff: She can’t be schmoozed, can’t be convinced. They respond diligently, if glumly, to emails that arrive in Austin like hostage notes, and often echo or prefigure former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney‘s attacks on him. ‘It’s just very high level saturation bombing from our perspective—we don’t know why,’ said a Perry ally, who said the campaign has given up on swaying her. ‘It’s just duck and cover.'”[15]

In addition to his remarks about Israel, Perry also drew criticism for his comments that U.S. troops should intervene in Mexico to help that country’s efforts against drug cartels. He said in an October 2011 New Hampshire speech, “It may require our military in Mexico working in concert with them to kill these drug cartels and keep them off our border.”[16]  Steven Taylor of Outside the Beltway called this “Rick Perry’s worst idea yet,” saying it would be merely a “serious escalation of the current policy” already failing, would “lead to an escalation of violence,” is “tone deaf” historically, and “is an egregious example of American hubris.”[17]

However, this view appeared to be the result of pressure he was facing from conservatives over earlier comments he made on immigration in a September 2011 debate. When defending a 2001 bill that provided illegal immigrants with in-state tuition at Texas public universities if they had lived in the state for more than three years, Perry said: “If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart.”[18]

Perry continued by mocking a long preferred immigration policy of conservatives, namely building a fence spanning the U.S.-Mexico border to keep illegal immigrants out: “You can’t just talk about it and say, ‘Oh, let’s build a wall from Brownsville to El Paso and that will take care of it.’ We have to live with reality.”[19]

Despite his debate comments, Perry’s campaign website claimed he would “secure our international borders” and “take decisive action to defend our sovereign border because there can be no homeland security without border security.”[20]

Perry returned to this theme after an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States—via a Mexican drug cartel—was revealed. Calling the allegation “business as usual for Iran,” Perry told an Indianapolis audience, “We cannot have national security until we have border security.”[21]

Before become Texas governor, Perry served as lieutenant governor under George W. Bush from 1999-2000, and before that was commissioner of agriculture in Texas from 1991-1999.

Share RightWeb

Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.


[1] Patrick Caldwell, “The Legal Trouble That Could Haunt Rick Perry’s Presidential Campaign,” Mother Jones, June 10, 2015,http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/06/rick-perry-president-indictment.

[2] David Frum, “Rick Perry’s Biggest Advantage in 2016,” The Atlantic, October 20, 2014, http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/10/rick-perrys-biggest-advantage-in-2016/381602/.

[3] James Carden, “Rick Perry Gives Hawks a Blank Slate,” The American Conservative, October 30, 2014,http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/rick-perry-gives-the-hawks-a-blank-slate/.

[4] Gerry Mullany, “Rick Perry on the Issues,” The New York Times, June 4, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/05/us/politics/rick-perry-on-the-issues.html?_r=0.

[5] James Lindsay, “Campaign 2016: Rick Perry, GOP Presidential Candidate,” Council on Foreign Relations, June 5, 2015,http://blogs.cfr.org/lindsay/2015/06/05/campaign-2016-rick-perry-gop-presidential-candidate/.

[6] [vi]Gerry Mullany, “Rick Perry on the Issues,” The New York Times, June 4, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/05/us/politics/rick-perry-on-the-issues.html?_r=0.

[7] James Lindsay, “Campaign 2016: Rick Perry, GOP Presidential Candidate,” Council on Foreign Relations, June 5, 2015,http://blogs.cfr.org/lindsay/2015/06/05/campaign-2016-rick-perry-gop-presidential-candidate/.

[8] RickPerry.org, “National Security,” http://www.rickperry.org/issues/national-security/.

[9] RickPerry.org, “Gov. Perry’s Remarks at Israel-Palestine Press Conference in New York City,” September 20, 2011, http://www.rickperry.org/news/gov-perry-remarks-at-israel-palestine-press-conference-in-new-york-city/.

[10] William Saletan, “Alliance for Christ,” Slate.com, September 21, 2011,http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/frame_game/2011/09/alliance_for_christ.single.html.

[11] Andrew Sullivan, “Perry’s Backs Great Israel – With Cowboy Boots On, Ctd,” The Dish, September 22, 2011,http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/09/perrys-backs-greater-israel-with-cowboy-boots-on-ctd-1.html.

[12] Daniel Larison, “Clear Directives,” The American Conservative, September 21, 2011, http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/2011/09/21/clear-directives/.

[13] Daniel Larison, “Perry and Appeasement,” The American Conservative, September 21, 2011,http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/2011/09/21/perry-and-appeasement/.

[14] Jerusalem Post, “Texas Governor: Prosecute US flotilla participants,” June 30, 2011, http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Texas-governor-Prosecute-US-flotilla-participants.

[15] Ben Smith, “Rick Perry’s worst nightmare: Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin,” Politico, October 25, 2011,http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1011/66854.html

[16] Amy Gardner, “Perry: Send U.S. troops to Mexico to fight drug wars,” the Washington Post, October 1, 2011,http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/perry-send-us-troops-to-mexico-to-fight-drug-wars/2011/10/01/gIQA2qDGDL_story.html.

[17] Steven L. Taylor, “Rick Perry’s Worst Idea Yet,” Outside the Beltway, October 1, 2011, http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/rick-perrys-worst-idea-yet/.

[18] Arlette Saenz, “Rick Perry Walks Back ‘No Heart’ Comment on Immigration,” ABCnews.com, September 28, 2011,http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/09/rick-perry-walks-back-no-heart-comment-on-immigration/.

[19] Arlette Saenz, “Rick Perry Walks Back ‘No Heart’ Comment on Immigration,” ABCnews.com, September 28, 2011,http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/09/rick-perry-walks-back-no-heart-comment-on-immigration/.

[20] RickPerry.org, “National Security,” http://www.rickperry.org/issues/national-security/.

[21] The Associated Press, “Perry: Terror plot shows border must be secured,” The Dallas Morning News, October 12, 2011,http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/perry-watch/headlines/20111012-perry-terror-plot-shows-border-must-be-secured.ece.

Share RightWeb

Rick Perry Résumé


  • The Response: Organizer and convener (2011)


  • 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
  • 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate
  • Texas Governor (2000-2015)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Texas (1999-2000)
  • Texas Commissioner of Agriculture (1991-1999)


  • Independent Real Estate Development


  • Texas A&M University: B.S.


Rick Perry News Feed

Sen. Mitt Romney votes against new East Texas judge who called Barack Obama 'un-American impostor' - Dallas NewsThe 10 Worst Presidential-Nomination Campaigns in Living Memory - New York MagazineKenny Marchant becomes fourth Texas congressman to retire as GOP exodus grows - Dallas NewsThe Banality of Lindsey Graham - The New RepublicSenate Democrats, Republicans prepare for 2020 battleground in Trump era - ABC NewsWill Hurd Has Defied Both Liberals and Donald Trump. Is He the Future of the GOP or a Party of One? - Texas MonthlyIowa and New Hampshire won't cancel 2020 GOP primaries - CBS NewsTop 9 presidential primary debate moments in US history - Fox NewsThe risks of standing out at the 2020 Democratic debates - PBS NewsHourBeto’s Cool, But Can He Win a Presidential Nomination? - New York MagazineWisconsin swing voters tire of Trump - AxiosTrump’s Apostle - Texas MonthlyRep. Seth Moulton becomes the 19th Democratic candidate for president - Roll Call The Long-Shot Candidacy Conundrum - The AtlanticThe perils and privileges of being Joe Biden - The Washington PostExclusive: Massive leak of Trump transition vetting documents shows "red flags" for top officials - AxiosThe Daily 202: A wake-up call for Democrats in Wisconsin, which could be the closest battleground of 2020 - The Washington PostBill Weld on the issues, in under 500 words - AxiosStudy suggests Russian social media trolls had impact on 2016 election - AxiosMeet the 'Bad Blues': House Democrats Who Deserve to Be Primaried by Progressives - Common Dreams

Right Web is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

The Right Web Mission

Right Web tracks militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy.

For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

Featured Profiles

The brainchild of Sears-Roebuck heiress Nina Rosenwald, the Gatestone Institute is a New York-based advocacy organization formerly chaired by John Bolton that is notorious for spreading misinformation about Muslims and advocating extremely hawkish views on everything from Middle East policy to immigration.

Conrad Black is a former media mogul closely connected to rightist political factions in the United States who was convicted in July 2007 for fraud and obstruction of justice and later pardoned by his friend President Trump.

David Friedman is U.S. Ambassador to Israel under Donald Trump. He is known for his extreme views on Israel, which include opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state and support for Israeli settlements.

Jason Greenblatt is the Special Representative for International Negotiations for President Donald Trump primarily working on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies has re-established itself as a primary driver of hawkish foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, during the Trump administration.

Rupert Murdoch is the head of News Corp, the parent company of Fox News, and a long-time supporter of neoconservative campaigns to influence U.S. foreign policy.

Shmuley Boteach is a “celebrity rabbi” known for his controversial “pro-Israel” advocacy.