Texas Governor Rick Perry’s presidential candidacy is on its last legs in South Carolina. Today, the gaffe-prone candidate suggested he thought U.S. ally Turkey was governed by terrorists and said he would cut all foreign aid to the country if he were president, even though Turkey receives no foreign aid from the United States.
The governor was halting in his remarks, stumbling to the end of them to ill effect, as he has on stage throughout the half year or so he has been campaigning.
“Well obviously, when you have a country that is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists, when you start to see that type of activity against their own citizens, then yes– not only is it time for us to have a conversation about whether or not they belong to be in NATO, but it’s time for the United States, when we look at their foreign aid, to go to zero with it.”
The audience enthusiastically applauded the answer.
The Washington Post reports that the Turkish foreign ministry rebuked Perry in a strongly worded release:
“Figures who are candidates for positions that require responsibility, such as the U.S. presidency, should be more knowledgeable about the world and exert more care with their statements.”
Turkish ambassador to Washington, Namik Tan, took the opportunity to comment on what many Americans agree has been an embarrassing Republican primary race.
“We do hope this episode in last night’s debate leads to a better informed foreign policy discussion among the Republican Party candidates, one where long-standing allies are treated with respect not disdain.”
The U.S. State Department issued a statement similarly critical of Perry’s remarks, adding that they in no way reflect U.S. positions.
“We absolutely and fundamentally disagree with [Perry’s] assertion,” said spokesman Mark Toner.