Texas Governor Rick Perry spoke to students at Liberty University, which was founded by Jerry Falwell, on Wednesday in a speech likely to resonate with social conservatives. His speech, though, also touched a bit on the foreign policy and anti-Washington themes that are making up a part of his campaign.
Perry said that though liberty is given to man by God, it must be sacrificed for by men. Perry spoke of all the American soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice fighting for America’s freedoms.
Perry told the audience, “you are the beneficiary of their courage and sacrifice” and asked them to “make the most of the freedom they sacrificed for” and to “redeem their sacrifice by living lives worthy of it.”
Perry also said that the students he was addressing were a part of the “generation that grew up in the shadows of 9/11” and that “you know the presence of evil in this fallen world.”
“Our response cannot be to isolate in our borders.” Perry said, before adding that America must “build enduring alliances around globe for freedom”
Perry also said that America had to do what Ronald Reagan did and “speak past the oppressors and the illegitimate rulers and directly to their people,” and mentioned that the Arab Spring began when a Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire in protest of his country’s heavy-handed authorities.
“People desire to be free and speak truth to adversaries and dictators,” Perry said, before adding that, “you are blessed to live in freedom.”
After taking an implicit jab at Mitt Romney, whom many have said has wanted to be president since he was a child, Perry said he didn’t know at age twelve whether he wanted to be a doctor or lawyer or governor or president.
In the most powerful, testimonial moment of his speech, Perry said his journey of faith was not the the “story of someone who turned to God because I wanted to,” but because “I had nowhere else to turn.”
“I was lost, spiritually and emotionally, and I didn’t know how to fix it,” Perry said.
Perry said that he found God and trusted that the God had a unique plan for each individual.
“God uses broken people to reach a broken world,” Perry said. “Mistakes of yesterday say nothing about the possibilities of tomorrow.”
Perry also told the students to not allow “a bunch of Washington politicians to tell you how to live your life” and in the debate over their future, they should not be “silent” because “you have the right to speak your mind and insist on change.”
Perry then went to Richmond Virginia and spoke to activists in Virginia’s Republican Party. He was introduced by Virginia’s Governor Bob McDonnell. Both Texas and Virginia have been business friendly states, and many Republicans have speculated that Perry and McDonnell, should Perry win the nomination, team up as the “jobs ticket.”
Perry then met with businessman Donald Trump in New York last night.