Perry says consider military in Mexico

AUSTIN — GOP Gov. Rick Perry, who continues to insist he’s not interested in the presidency, is nevertheless always ready to tell the federal government how to do a better job on such matters as border security — including indicating the U.S. should be open to sending military into Mexico to help fight the drug war.

Appearing on MSNBC on Thursday, Perry was asked, “Would you advocate military involvement in Mexico on the Mexico side of the border to help Mexico in this drug war?”

Perry answered: “I think we have to use every aspect of law enforcement that we have, including the military. I think you have the same situation as you had in Colombia. Obviously, Mexico has to approve any type of assistance that we can give them.

“But the fact of the matter is, these are people who are highly motivated with money. They are vicious. They are armed to the teeth. I want to see them defeated. And any means that we can to run these people off our border and to save Americans’ lives we need to be engaged in.”

Perry has long called for more federally paid National Guard troops on the border and has cited the state’s efforts to try to fill the void caused by what he describes as the failed federal effort on border security.

Thursday’s answer reflected a difference in tone, though not in substance, from one he gave in an interview this summer with the San Antonio Express-News and Houston Chronicle, when he was asked whether the U.S. should consider sending the military into Mexico as it did in 1916 after border violence.

Perry said then, “I would suggest to you in that almost 100-year period of time, that idea of loading up and riding across the border to clash with the cartel members might be ill-conceived. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, the United States, in a coordinated effort with the Colombian government, we were able to defeat the drug cartels in that country to a great degree. Hopefully, Mexico understands that 28,000 of their citizens murdered since 2006 by the drug cartels is unacceptable. If they are responsive to our assistance, then I would think our federal government should give them that assistance.”

Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said Perry’s point is that the U.S. must consider all options to secure the border.

“Certainly Texas is doing its part,” Cesinger said. “We need to consider all of our options when combating this drug war that’s happening right across the river from Texas.”

Perry’s reference to Colombia appears similar to comments by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in September, when she said Mexican drug cartels’ activities look like an insurgency. The Los Angeles Times reported then, “She said the United States, Mexico and Central American countries need to cooperate on an ‘equivalent’ of Plan Colombia — the multibillion-dollar military and aid program that helped turn back Colombia’s insurgents.”

Perry gave Thursday’s interview while on a trip to San Diego for a meeting of the Republican Governors Association. He was elected chairman, a post he’s held previously.

Perry was also asked again about running for president — with the added query of whether his negative answer is “Shermanesque.”

Perry asked, “Shermanesque? Help me on that one.”

Told it was a reference to Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s 1884 declaration that he wouldn’t run if nominated or serve if elected, Perry stuck to his own words, guaranteeing the questions will continue.

“How about Perryesque?” Perry asked. “The fact of the matter is, I’m not running for the presidency of the United States. Don’t want to be the president of the United States. I’ve got the best job in America.”