Texas Gov. Rick Perry called for "overwhelming force" to be deployed in response to the threat posed by the Islamic State militant group, which he warned could soon launch an attack on U.S. soil.
Perry argued that the jihadist movement had had a "triumphant summer" and was poised to expand its reach in the region beyond Syria and Iraq if the United States failed to act. President Obama, he said, should expand the current air campaign to eliminate a threat that he said is already stronger than Al Qaeda.
"We have come to one of those moments where American action will be decisive and inaction will be consequential," the Republican warned.
Perry spoke Thursday at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington at a forum meant to focus on U.S. border security. He first addressed the recent flood of immigrants from Central America into the United States and accused Obama of a "willful neglect" of his obligation to defend the border.
"Until the federal government meets that duty and secures that border, all talk of immigration reform is pointless because Washington has no credibility on the matter," he said.
But the potential 2016 presidential candidate -- who is scheduled to visit the first primary state of New Hampshire this weekend -- expanded his remarks to include the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, linking the two issues by warning about the threat of a jihadist who "slips across our unsecure border."
The advance this summer of Islamic State forces has rekindled a foreign-policy debate in both parties, renewing a rift within the GOP over how the United States should respond to a deteriorating situation in Iraq.
Perry firmly aligned himself with the more hawkish wing of the party, even as he acknowledged Americans' reluctance to engage in new military incursions.
"For many Americans, of course, just the last thing we want to think about is more conflict in Iraq and what that might involve," he said. "But we better get on top of this crisis by every means necessary because events are moving fast and the price is only going to move up."
Obama, Perry said, will be warned by his own base about "mission creep" if he escalates the U.S. response. But he said the Islamic State's own version of "mission creep" could mean "following through on the threats they've been making by sending their recruits into this country."
Asked specifically if traditional ground combat troops should be considered, Perry answered that "all your options have to be open."
Perry began his remarks by speaking briefly about his indictment by a local Texas prosecutor on charges of abuse of power over his veto of funding for a local anti-corruption watchdog. The governor again called his actions a valid "exercise of my constitutional veto authority."
"I am very confident in my case and I can assure you that I will fight this attack of our system of government," he said.
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