Perry was elected lieutenant governor in 1998, and he became governor when then-Governor George W. Bush was sworn in as President. He was elected governor in 2002, and re-elected in 2006 and 2010. Perry previously served as Texas Commissioner of Agriculture and as a member of the Texas House of Representatives.  Prior to his political career, Perry was in the cotton farming business with his father. He served in the United States Air Force, retiring in 1977 with the rank of captain.

Did You Know?

While in the Air Force, Perry flew missions in the Middle East and Europe.

Perry’s foreign policy priorities have focused on strengthening military and defense spending.  In his book, Fed Up!, he raises concern about defense “becoming an ever smaller part of the budget.” (Fed Up!, 2010)1 He also expresses concern about Iran gaining nuclear weapons and skepticism about the role of international organizations like NATO and the United Nations.  As governor, he went to Iraq three times and Afghanistan once to visit Texas national guard troops.  In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Perry worked with USAID to coordinate the deployment of humanitarian resources and rescue parties from Texas. (Press Release, January 2010)2 On July 12, he met with former- President Musharraf to discuss the importance of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship and the role of U.S. economic assistance after the earthquake. In November, he published an op-ed that both emphasized the value of foreign assistance to the United States while calling for all foreign assistance to start at zero.

As governor, Perry emphasized the importance of expanding international trade for his state’s economy.  He made over 23 international trips focusing on the promotion of Texas’ businesses.   He has also made several trips to Mexico, Texas’s largest foreign trade partner.  While speaking at an ‘Invest in Texas’ business seminar, he emphasized the importance of trade, saying “Trade strengthens relationships, be they interpersonal or international.” (Speech in Mexico, August 2007)3

Perry on America’s Global Leadership

“The foreign aid budget in my administration for every country is gonna start at zero dollars. Zero dollars. And then we’ll have a conversation. Then we’ll have a conversation in this country about whether or not a penny of our taxpayer dollar needs to go into those countries. (GOP CBS Foreign Policy debate, November 2011)4

“I think it’s time for this country to have a very real debate about foreign aid. Clearly there are places–as a matter of fact I think it’s time for us to have a very serious discussion about defunding the United Nations…And I think it is time to not only have that entire debate about all of our foreign aid, but in particular the UN. Why are we funding that organization?” (GOP Las Vegas debate, October 2011)5

“We are now confronted with the rise of new economic and military powerhouses in China and India, as well as a Russia that is increasingly aggressive and troublesome to its neighbors and former satellite nations that are struggling to maintain their relatively newfound independence. There is no reason to believe that armed conflict with any major power is imminent, but the world is rapidly changing, and the United States must be prepared for the ramifications of shifting balances of power.” (Fed Up!, 2010)6

“Citizens of this new era of global exchange must possess the skills to successfully live and work in an environment where people from difference social, cultural, linguistic, and religious backgrounds can interact, compete, and cooperate on a daily basis.” (Press Release, November 2004)7

Perry on National Security

“I think the entire conversation about, how do we deliver our aid to those countries, and is it best spent with 100,000 military who have the target on their back in Afghanistan? I don’t think so at this particular point in time. I think the best way for us to be able to impact that country is to make a transition to where that country’s military is going to be taking care of their people, bring our young men and women home, and continue to help them build the infrastructure that we need, whether it’s schools for young women like yourself or otherwise.” (CNN-Tea Party Debate, September 2011)8Watch the video

“It’s not our interest to go it alone. We respect our allies, and we must always seek to engage them in military missions. At the same time, we must be willing to act when it is time to act. We cannot concede the moral authority of our nation to multi-lateral debating societies, and when our interests are threatened American soldiers should be led by American commanders.” (Speech on Foreign Policy, August 2011)9

“I do not believe that America should fall subject to a foreign policy of military adventurism. We should only risk shedding American blood and spending American treasure when our vital interests are threatened and we should always look to build coalitions among the nations to protect the mutual interests of freedom loving people.” (Speech on Foreign Policy, August 2011)10

“These young children, just these bright faces in just rubble, nothing but devastation up there and the USAID literally saved their lives.  It was a great effort and I think the United States, Pakistan relationship at that particular point in time was very, very solid.” (Meeting with former Pakistani President Musharraf, July 2011)11

“Time and again, I speak to soldiers who have seen the positive impact of US efforts and tell of Iraqi communities responding to the rule of law. We have come too far and sacrificed too much to simply walk away and allow the dark forces of oppression to regain control of these places that have been consecrated by the blood of our nation’s best. Instead, we must lead boldly, focused on preserving order as we prepare people who once lived in bondage to defend their own freedom.” (Speech in Texas, May 2008)12

Perry on Trade

“We must use aid to promote our core principles of self-governance and self-reliance on the part of men and women around the globe. The fact of the matter is that we cannot assist in development without insisting on good governance, and we should understand that fostering human freedom is development. Our goal should be for recipient nations to become trading partners, allies, and even become donor nations themselves.” (Op-Ed, November 2011)13

“The United States must also prioritize development programs that will result in a return on the taxpayer’s investment. The federal government can act as an effective intermediary with developing nations to enable U.S. entrepreneurs and businesses small and large to operate in their economies to help create America jobs at home and stronger customers for U.S. goods and services abroad.” (Op-Ed November 2011)14

“Strengthening the economic relationship between Mexico and Texas through trade, investment and energy initiatives will yield greater prosperity for our respective citizens and make for an even better relationship between neighbors.” (Speech in Mexico, August 2007)15


  1. Perry, Rick. Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America from Washington. New York: Little Brown, and Company. 2010. Pg. 127.
  6. Perry, Rick. Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America from Washington. New York: Little Brown, and Company. 2010. Pg. 125

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