NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's comparison of his fight with labor unions to the U.S. struggle against the Islamic State was "inappropriate" and a "mistake," likely Republican presidential competitor and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday.
"These are Americans," Perry said in an interview after Walker made the comments at the Conservative Political Action Conference early Thursday evening. "You are talking about, in the case of ISIS, people who are beheading individuals and committing heinous crimes, who are the face of evil. To try to make the relationship between them and the unions is inappropriate."
In a question-and-answer session at CPAC, Walker was asked how he would fight the terror group that's been beheading Westerners and seizing territory across Iraq and Syria. He concluded a lengthy answer by referring to his own political fights with labor unions in his home state: “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world," he said.
When asked if he thought Walker’s comments went too far, Perry said, “yes.”
A Walker spokeswoman moved quickly to clarify the Wisconsin governor’s remarks, saying, "Governor Walker believes our fight against ISIS is one of the most important issues our country faces. He was in no way comparing any American citizen to ISIS. What the governor was saying was when faced with adversity he chooses strength and leadership. Those are the qualities we need to fix the leadership void this White House has created."
Perry ran for president in 2012; when he first entered the race, he raised more than $18 million in less than two months and was considered a major threat to eventual nominee Mitt Romney. But he faded quickly after stumbling in early debates. His comments about Walker's missteps came as he explained that the Wisconsin governor would have to weather similar national scrutiny.
"Scott's a good man, he's got a good message out there and he's an energetic guy and he's a new face on the block--and if you'll recall in 2011, I was a new face on the block for about 3 hours," Perry said. "Making mistakes -- nobody's perfect -- and how you deal with that and how you get over that very quickly is going to be important for him. I think, you know, some of the statements that he's made are obviously problematic for him."
Perry went on to mention Walker's comment earlier in the day. "Today, I think trying to make the connection between ISIS and unions was a mistake," Perry said.
Perry also said that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's frontrunner status is in large part due to his famous last name. "That's a pretty well known name for one thing, so just like George W. went straight to the top," Perry said. "The American people will make a decision on who's best qualified to lead."