Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, salutes at his first campaign event on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011, in Greenland, N.H. after announcing earlier in the day that he's running for President in 2012. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (AP)

Perry: The military doesn't respect Obama

"I want to make sure that every [soldier] respects highly the president of the United States," he says

Justin Elliott
August 15, 2011 6:44PM (UTC)

In Iowa last night, newly anointed GOP primary heavyweight Rick Perry offered a novel reason he is running for president (in addition to God calling him to do so):

Rick Perry strayed from a tribute to military service to tell an audience in Waterloo, Iowa, that he's running in part to restore the respect of the military to its civilian leaders.

"One of the reasons that I’m running for president is I want to make sure that every young man and woman who puts on the uniform of the United States respects highly the president of the United States," he said.

What is Perry talking about here? For one thing, this is not the type of sentence a candidate delivers off the cuff. It seems pretty clearly to be a deliberate, premeditated shot at President Obama as somehow lacking or illegitimate in his role as commander in  chief of the military.


Sure, it all sounds very 2007, given that Obama has been president for nearly three years and has presided over, among other military matters, the massive escalation of the war in Afghanistan. But Perry's line should serve as a corrective to those who thought the killing of Osama bin Laden would neutralize attacks on Obama as weak or lacking the mettle to lead the military. Then again, the attack seems more plausible in the context of a GOP primary than it does, say, face-to-face against the president of the United States on a debate stage. 

A couple of other interesting takes: Ben Smith, who reported the quote from Iowa, observes that the military is pretty much required to respect the president, so in some sense Perry's line is insulting to soldiers. It's even odder given that Perry himself is an Air Force vet. And Adam Weinstein at Mother Jones notes that there's a crucial difference between respect and approval ratings, an area in which Obama is hurting among soldiers -- much like George W. Bush was back in 2007.

Justin Elliott

Justin Elliott is a reporter for ProPublica. You can follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin

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