“More than any election since 1980,” ace pollster Kellyanne Conway tells me, “2016 will be a national-security contest.” And she says former Gov. Rick Perry may have the best chance to convince voters that he can be commander-in-chief.
Let’s think on that. With the world in turmoil, who do you really want sitting across the negotiating table from Vladimir Putin, the Iranian mullahs or the Chinese? How about a military man to command the war to destroy radical-Islamic jihadism?
Very few people know that between 1972 and 1977, Perry served in the U.S. Air Force, flying C-130 tactical aircraft in Europe and the Middle East. He is the only current GOP candidate to have worn the military uniform. And he rarely talks about it.
Perry’s childhood goal was to learn to fly. He went into the Air Force after graduating from Texas A&M. And he ended his five years of service with the rank of captain. As Perry would say on other subjects, “That matters.”
The Perry story usually revolves around the Texas economic-growth miracle. But the military service? The captain’s rank? The piloting of strategic-airlift planes? That’s hardly known. And in his 14 years as governor of the Lone Star state, plenty of national-security issues (and border-security issues) came across his desk.