Rick Perry decided to double down on his previous statement that Turkey "is being ruled by, what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists." When asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer if he stood by his remarks, Perry said yes and used honor killings to justify his remarks.
BLITZER: You caused a stir at the debate last night when you spoke about Turkey. And I'll play the clip for those who did not hear what you said about Turkey. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: Well, obviously when you have a country that is being ruled by what many would perceived to be Islamic terrorists, when you start seeing 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 in NATO, but it's time for the United States, when we look at their foreign aid, to go to zero with it.
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BLITZER: All right. The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement today. In part -- I'll read it to you -- they said, "Turkey became a member of NATO when the governor was just 2 years old. Turkey has been among the front line countries in the fight against terrorism. The United States has no time to lose with such candidates who do not even know America's allies."
Did you misspeak last night? Are you ready to revise your comments?
PERRY: Not at all. A country that allowed 140 to 160 honor killings in 2011, I will tell you that is not a country that America wants to be associating with. A country that referred to the Israel flotilla attack as an act of war, I mean, this is a country that's becoming more and more aggressive to a true American ally in that area, and that is Israel.
So the idea that Erdogan's regime has somehow or another earned our respect is not correct. And I think -- you know, my wife works for the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault. And it's these types of activities, particularly against women, that is from -- I lived in Turkey in the '70s. I visited there in the '80s, and again back in the 2000s. So the idea this country has moved from its pro-Western stance that (INAUDIBLE) into today, where, you know, I will tell you, I don't think Americans want their foreign aid going to a country that allows for honor killings of women. And that is a real issue that we need to deal with as the United States and our foreign aid.
From my perspective, Turkey hasn't earned our trust when they're doing that to their own citizens.
BLITZER: But the U.S. barely provides any military or economic assistance to Turkey right now. Their economy is pretty good. But on this specific issue of Erdogan and the other Turkish leaders right now, you say they are, in your words, Islamic terrorists? Are you really saying that?
PERRY: I said that if they are treating their citizens that way, that they approach that terminology. I mean, when you allow for honor killings, Wolf -- I mean, I hope you're not defending honor killings as an appropriate act in any country, much less a country that we send foreign aid to. And we do send foreign aid to that country. I think some $4 billion. That's not just a drop in the bucket.
BLITZER: Four billion dollars in this fiscal year? Is that what you're saying?
PERRY: No, $4 billion in the last few years, and I think $7 billion on the military side of things. But the fact is, if we send any money to a country -- Wolf, let me ask you, are you sitting here and defending the act of honor killing?
BLITZER: No, of course I'm not. That's horrible and disgusting, and people who do that should be punished.
PERRY: Absolutely. And that's the point.
BLITZER: But I believe the Turkish government isn't defending it, either. It happens in Turkey, it happens in Egypt, it happens in a lot of Islamic countries, but they're not supporting that. No one defends that except for Islamic extremists.
PERRY: And that is the reason -- that is the reason that I've called for going to zero on this foreign aid to these countries that -- you know, the idea that we've got U.S. dollars going into countries that allow these types of atrocities to occur -- and it's my understanding as well that women who go to the state for protection are not getting those protections. So this is a country that's got some explaining to do to the United States.
BLITZER: So you would want to see Turkey no longer a member of NATO? Is that what you're saying?
PERRY: I think we need the conversation with them.
Listen, if they want to be our ally -- I will tell you, myself, and I think a lot of Americans, as we look at countries like Pakistan, like Turkey, that, on one hand, they want to send us the money, we want your money, but then their activities are either anti-American or they're committing atrocities against their own people, I mean, is that the kind of people we want to be siding with? I mean, I understand it's a complicated world out there, but to sit back and to accept these things, Americans are ready for some strong language and some strong actions.
This president that we've got today has such a muddled foreign policy. I think one of the reasons you see the Middle East in such an uproar is because America is not injecting itself, and we're not putting our interests and, for that matter, the interests of American people into these countries.
So, I don't have a problem at all with what I said. And I think Turkey has got to decide whether they want to be a country that projects those Western values that America is all about.