Rick Perry still shaky on foreign policy

Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during a stop in Jackson, Miss. Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011.
Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during a stop in Jackson, Miss. Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011.

Despite a strong performance in the last presidential debate focused on foreign policy, Texas Gov. Rick Perry showed less command over the subject in a Monday night appearance on Fox News.

During the CBS News/National Journal debate on Nov. 12, Perry made waves by saying he would zero out aid to all countries and re-examine those budgets. Asked Monday about which countries he would permanently cut off from the U.S. purse strings, Perry identified China -- because of the high number of abortions in the country -- and Venezuela, because of the oil money that flows through the country. But Perry also said, "I don't know whether Venezuela is getting any money or not."

Venezuela receives only a miniscule amount of U.S. aid dollars -- only $6 million in 2010 and a budgeted $5 million for 2012, according to an analysis by the political fact-checking website PolitiFact of aid to the country. The money is disbursed through the Economic Support Fund, which is used in Venezuela to promote a Democratic society.

Perry also said he couldn't answer whether he would zero out aid to Pakistan, a country with which the U.S. has had increasingly fraught relations since al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was found to be living there since before his death. Perry said the issue was complex, due to the military, the secret police and Pakistan's possession of nuclear weapons.

The uncertainty is a potentially troubling sign for Perry, who will debate foreign policy issues again Tuesday night in Washington in a CNN-sponsored debate.

The Texas governor was definitive about one issue: he said he would "absolutely" support the creation of a no-fly zone over Syria and "would not spend a lot of time" waiting for U.N. approval of such actions.

"We need to sit down as a country and have a conversation about is the continued funding of the united nations in the best interest of America," he said.

On the political front, Perry expressed confidence that he would be able to win the nomination despite depressed poll numbers in recent weeks that put him in the single digits. "I got in late," he said, by way of explanation, and and stressed that he had just recently begun to lay out his policy plans.

As to his Iowa performance?

"First or second in Iowa?" Fox host Bret Baier asked.

"Either way," Perry said.

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    Rebecca Kaplan covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.