ROCHESTER — Texas Gov. Rick Perry spoke to 100 area residents at the Defend Freedom Pork Roast last Saturday and called on veterans and other Americans to help improve the country, not wait for Washington, D.C., to do so.
Perry, a Republican who has been governor since 2001, said leaders in the nation’s capital are adding to the strain on the economy.
“We don’t have to accept this thing because we’re Americans, and we have the power to change it,” Perry said, calling for the support of veterans and their families.
“America is free because many of you are brave,” Perry said, adding it’s time to restore America.
Saturday’s event at the fairgrounds had a good turnout, according to Roger Wilkins of the Concerned Veterans for America, Live Free or Die Chapter, which organized the event.
Although Rochester residents Nick and Kristina Bates said they felt compelled to listen to Perry, even though they aren’t veterans or consider themselves very political.
“It’s good to be informed,” Nick Bates said.
Michelle Jadis, of Lebanon, Maine, said Perry spoke well on a number of issues.
Jadis said, “He’s here for the veterans and it was nice for him to mention the Foley family.”
Perry began by expressing sympathies for the Foley family, who live in the city, after their son James — a freelance journalist who was held for more than two years in Syria, was beheaded by Muslim extremists in the group known as the Islamic State, or ISIS.
“This young man personifies what courage is all about,” Perry said. “He went into dangerous parts of the world to shine bright lights into dark places.”
“We are all collectively mourning his death,” Perry said.
“At times like this remind us that we are not Republicans, that we are not Democrats — we are Americans,” Perry said.
Perry said it’s imperative for the nation to decide what terms it wants to meet “the cancer of ISIS” as world-wide threat. He added it’s a choice between decisive action and devastating inaction.
“I don’t think it serves our nation to minimize this threat,” Perry said.
“Peace in this world is not a product of American withdrawal. It is a product of American strength,” Perry said.
“If history has taught us anything, it is that evil must be confronted,” Perry said. “The longer we wait, the greater the cost.”
Perry said this is true in the Middle East and it’s also true at the “porous” southern U.S. border, which could provide means for terrorists to enter the nation. He said 60,000 unaccompanied minors and millions of illegal immigrants have already entered the country.
“National security starts at the border,” Perry said, adding he’s already deployed members of the Texas National Guard to augment state and federal forces along the border.
“I’m not waiting for Washington,” Perry said, adding the adversaries of freedom are on the rise due to the “tepid actions at best” from President Barack Obama.
Perry said the border is one of the many issues in the country burdened by overreaching federal regulations.
“It’s a disgrace that those who gave the most are treated the worst by Veterans Affairs,” Perry said, adding the failures in the VA prove federally mandated health care will not work.
Perry also mentioned how the Internal Revenue Service targeted political enemies, conservative non-profit organizations, and how the Environmental Protection Agency considers carbon dioxide a major threat.