Defiant Rick Perry holds court on border crisis, knocks Obama on Iraq

Indictment hasn't slowed Texas governor

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Rick Perry showed a lot of chutzpah this afternoon – that’s Yiddish for someone who has a lot of gall. Under felony indictment in Texas, the Governor accused President Obama of being a scofflaw after sweeping into a crowded room to speak in the nation’s capital Thursday.

To review: Perry is accused of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant in connection with vetoing $7.5 million to fund a Travis County office investigating public corruption. Perry made good on a veto threat after Rosemary Lehmberg, district attorney, refused to resign at his urging in the wake of her drunken driving conviction.

Speaking at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, Perry was scheduled to hold forth on the border crisis. Lucky for us that he didn’t limit his comments before an audience eager for more from a politician grinning in his recent mug shot and still gunning for the presidency.

Bent on avoiding any appearance of being chastened, Perry belittled the allegations against him, hassled Obama over executive power, called for more U.S. involvement in Iraq and urged lawmakers to fashion a “comprehensive border strategy.”   

The real main act, Perry stayed out of sight while an expert panel chewed over border issues before an impatient crowd. Once at the podium, the governor got right to the point, correctly gauging the crowd’s interest in two felony charges dealt him Aug. 15 by a Travis County grand jury.

“There are a few public officials in Travis County who have taken issue with an exercise of my constitutional veto authority,” Perry said.

Citing an arrest video showing a belligerent Lehmberg, Perry has said he didn’t want to put control of taxpayer dollars in her hands. 

Thursday, he took it to a loftier level.

“I am very confident in my case, and I can assure that I will fight this attack of our system of government,” Perry said, reading from prepared remarks. “With my fellow citizens, both Republicans and Democrats, I aim to defend our constitution and stand up for the rule of law in the state of Texas.”

The audience applauded, and soon Perry switched to criticizing Obama. The governor painted himself as a defender of the Texas Constitution and Obama as a scofflaw of the U.S. Constitution.

Perry said Obama came on the presidential scene as “the constitutional law professor who was going to raise our sights, make things work,” but the Supreme Court has “set him straight” 20 times on the constitutional limits of executive power. 

“We’ve still got two elected branches in this country,” Perry said. “We still like to do things democratically.”

As for the crisis at the border of unaccompanied minors, Perry scolded Obama for not visiting the border during a recent trip to Texas.

“To this day, the president has yet to see the facts on the ground of our southern border,” Perry said. 

After weighing in on the international crisis in Iraq, Perry circled back around to the indictments against him, which he says are political in spite of a Republican judge and prosecutor who served in a Republican administration.

Perry said when former White House advisor David Axelrod says “that this is sketchy, outrageous, totalitarian and McCarthyite, I agree.”

Oy vey….

Washington correspondent Trish Choate can be reached at 202-408-2709 or Follow her on Twitter at Trish_in_DC

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