Perry talks of downsizing government, supporting Israel

Although Perry focused on Israel, the audience at the Republican Jewish Coalition appeared to especially like his plans to reform Washington.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday spoke to an audience of Republican Jews about his firm commitment to Israel's security, but he drew the most enthusiastic applause when he talked about his proposal to drastically downsize the federal government. "The idea that we have to have all these people spending money in Washington is just not right," Perry said to great applause at a forum hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition. Later, he drew laughs by saying of Washington politicians, "They don't want me up here. This city is not ready for me." But Perry focused on connecting with the audience by talking about his support for the Jewish state. He sought to reassure the audience that Israel would still receive U.S. aid, despite a pledge he made to zero out all foreign-aid budgets. "America long ago ended the traditional foreign aid to Israel. Strategic defensive aid to Israel is what we will continue to be focused on, and I will assure you one thing: Strategic defensive aid, strategic aid in all forms, under a Perry administration will increase to Israel," he said. Israel policy, he added, "is not just a box that I check off for a campaign. It is a very deeply personal issue for me." He lambasted the Obama administration for displaying a "torrent of hostility" toward the country. He expressed support for a possibly Israeli strike against Iran, and said it needs "our vocal, unerring support in what will inevitably be in the face of international condemnation" if that happened. And previewing how his administration would address Palestinian statehood, Perry said that a two-state solution must be achieved through direct negotiation, and he demanded that Palestinians recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.