URBANDALE, Iowa - Texas Gov. Rick Perry opened up a new line of criticism against President Obama today, saying he hadn't shown the proper courtesy in welcoming troops returning home from the war in Iraq.
"It really disturbs me that after nine years of war in Iraq, this president wouldn't welcome our many heroes home with a simple parade in their honor," Perry said during a meet-and-greet with the West Side Conservative Club here. He speculated that there was no parade due to the war's unpopularity among Democrats.
"I don't know," he said. "But Mr. President, our soldiers come first, and it comes before party politics."
Obama gave a speech at Fort Bragg, N.C. earlier this month to mark the end of the war and honor the troops. He also laid a wreath at Arlington Cemetery with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, devoted a Christmas Eve video address to thanking the troops, and participated with Vice President Biden in a ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base to receive the American colors returning from Baghdad.
The war has been unpopular with most Americans, not just Democrats. Numerous polls show that two-thirds to three-quarters of the country oppose the war and approve of bringing the troops home.
Perry has accused Obama of "giving the enemy a timeline" and of pulling out of Iraq for political reasons, claiming lives will have been lost in vain. Obama pledged to end the war during his 2008 campaign and the timetable was negotiated by the Bush administration. Negotiations with Iraqi officials to maintain a small U.S. troop presence foundered when they refused to give the U.S. soldiers immunity from prosecution.