DES MOINES, Iowa — Presidential candidate Rick Perry took a veiled swipe at President Obama suggesting that his own military experience would make him a better commander in chief than the current one. He also addressed what he called “inevitable” comparisons between himself and George W. Bush.
“Experience matters. Having walked in a person’s shoes, having done what these men and women in the military are doing matters to them,” Perry said. “I don’t want somebody sitting in the front-left seat of the airliner who just got their pilots license."
As he made his way through the Iowa State Fair on Monday, Perry said he would not retreat “an inch” from comments he made at a Iowa GOP dinner Sunday night at which he said that one of the main reasons he was running for president was to “make sure that every young man and woman who puts on the uniform of this nation respects highly the president of the United States."
“I think the military men and women respect the commander in chief regardless of who it is. I think they really like to see a person who’s worn the uniform in that office and, you know, I think that’s just a true statement and I wouldn’t back up off of it an inch,” Perry told a group of reporters trailing him on Monday. “Go ask your veterans if they’d rather see somebody who’s never served as the commander in chief.”
The Texas governor said that lack of military experience does “absolutely not” disqualify someone from being president, but having some is an attribute.
“Statement of fact. People are comfortable with folks who have been through what they’ve been through in life.”
While on the move through the fair here, Perry shook hands, introduced himself to Iowans, ate a pork chop on a stick and a corn dog and spent time ogling a giant cow made of butter, before leaving for more campaign events in eastern Iowa.
He acknowledged that comparisons between himself and former President George W. Bush were “inevitable.”
“I’m Rick Perry, he’s George Bush,” Perry said. “Our records are quite different.”
"Well I went to Texas A&M. He went to Yale."
He added, “George Bush is not my opponent. He’s a former president and we give him all the respect for that.”
As he campaigned here it was clear that some Iowans already knew him — “Keep praying, Perry,” one woman told him. Other evidently still needed an introduction — “ Governor Pawlenty,” another fairgoer shouted in his direction.