Why I’m meeting with potential presidential contenders: to discuss Israel, Iran & ISIS. (Today’s meeting: Gov. Rick Perry)

Meeting with Gov. Rick Perry.

Meeting with Gov. Rick Perry.

(Austin, Texas) — In recent years, I have had the opportunity to meet and spend time with, and occasionally build friendships with, a number of potential presidential candidates.

The reason I do this is not because I want to be drawn back into partisan politics. Rather, I want to understand their world view by talking with them first-hand, get to know their character and personality, and pray for them. I also want, if possible, to help shape their view of the U.S.-Israel relationship, the threat of Radical Islam — especially Iran and ISIS — and the importance of our Arab allies in the Middle East, such as Jordan and Egypt.

As readers of this blog may recall, last November I co-wrote an essay for the Christian Post on what some evangelical leaders are looking for in the next President. In that context, let me cite two items that my colleagues and I mentioned in our list of critical issues:

4. NATIONAL SECURITY — Does the candidate have demonstrated wisdom and proven experience on defense and foreign policy issues? What does he or she believe constitutes America’s most vital national interests, those essential to protect and defend? Does he or she truly believe in a policy of “Peace Through Strength” and have a credible plan to rebuild the military, and a plan to protect our borders and national sovereignty? Does he or she have a solid team of qualified, seasoned advisors, especially on matters related to the defense, the Middle East, Russia, Asia, and energy?

5. ISRAEL AND RADICAL ISLAM — Does the candidate have a clear and coherent view of U.S. vital interests in the Middle East, including a demonstrated, consistent, long-standing support for Israel and a solid understanding of why Israel matters to the U.S.? Does the candidate have a clear understanding of the urgency of the threats posed by Iran, ISIS, and Radical Islam more broadly, and a serious approach towards dealing with such threats? Does he or she have proven wisdom and experience in dealing with the Middle East issues, or is the candidate too new to the foreign policy arena?

This process began with Sen. Rick Santorum, Gov. Mike Pence, and Gov. Mike Huckabee, to name a few. I’ll write about those encounters as we move into 2015.

Today, as part of this on-going journey, I met with Governor Rick Perry.

The Governor and I first met at the Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines, Iowa in August of 2012. There we spoke briefly about his track record in Texas, about my non-fiction book, Implosion, and the economic and spiritual troubles facing our country.

We next met in his State Capitol office in the spring of 2013 when my novel, Damascus Countdown, was released. That was a much more substantive discussion. We had about 90 minutes together to discuss President Obama’s trip to Israel, the Iran nuclear threat, the possibility of an Israeli first strike on Iran’s nuclear sites, and the importance of maintaining a strong alliance with the Jewish state.

Last August we met again at the 2014 Family Leadership Summit in Iowa where we were both speakers. He invited me to come see him the next time I was in Austin.

This afternoon, I thanked him for his recent visit to the Auschwitz death camp in southern Poland, and for his continued love and support for Israel and the Jewish people. I gave the Governor a copy of The Third Target, and we discussed the research behind the novel, the threat ISIS poses, and the current trend lines in the Middle East.

The Governor is finishing up 14 years governing the Lone Star State, and he has done an exceptional job. I don’t know what the future holds for him and his family, but it was great to see him again. Please join me in praying for the Perry family’s transition to private life.



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