- The Washington Times - Friday, October 7, 2011

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry stirred a gathering of social conservative voters Friday with a strong defense of “American exceptionalism” and family values, while offering few new policy specifics.

The Texas governor, addressing the three-day Values Voter Summit in Washington, strayed little from recent stump speeches, evoking general themes such as freedom, family values and the United States’ role as a world leader.

“American exceptionalism is the product of unlimited freedom, and there is nothing troubling our nation today that can’t be solved by the rebirth of freedom — nothing,” Mr. Perry said.

“I still believe in the exceptionalism of America. America remains the last best hope for mankind.”

The governor criticized the Obama administration’s policies toward Israel, saying U.S. national security is directly linked with that of its ally.

“A real key component in keeping America secure is keeping Israel secure,” he said. “Israel is our ally, they’re our friend, and when I’m president of the United States, America will again stand with our friends.”

Mr. Perry also touched on the issue of border security with Mexico, saying that as a governor of a border state he has “lived and breathed this issue.”

“There is no [national] security without border security,” he said. “Make no mistake about it, what we’re seeing south of our border is nothing short of a war being waged by narco-terrorists. They represents a clear and present danger to our country.”

Mr. Perry reiterated his position that the federal government should consider all options in securing its souther border, “including security operations in cooperation with the Mexican government.” He did not mention his recent defense of his program as governor offering in-state tuition rates to children of illegal immigrants, a position widely opposed by conservatives.

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