Rick Perry Says U.S. Should Have Done More To Overthrow Iranian Government In 2009

11/08/2011 12:22 pm ET | Updated Jan 08, 2012

WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry said Tuesday that President Obama should have done more in 2009 to aid protests by the Iranian people against their government, with the goal of bringing down the government in Tehran.

"The Unites States needed to be actively involved in taking that oppressive regime out of control of Iran. We had an opportunity. We missed it," Perry said during an interview with Christiane Amanpour for ABC News and Yahoo, which aired live online.

Perry, who is currently governor of Texas, said that during the massive uprisings across Iran in 2009, the U.S., should have used "diplomatic and economic and overt, covert or even civic opportunities to overthrow this oppressive regime."

Regarding the current state of play, Perry said there are only two options regarding Iran and its pursuit of a nuclear weapon: either allow "a mad man" -- Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- to obtain a nuke, "or we're going to have a nuclear strike, excuse me a military strike, to keep that from occurring."

Perry said a military strike would come from "either the Israelis unilaterally or in a bilateral or a multilateral way with their allies." He did not rule out a unilateral U.S strike.

"I never would take a military option off the table," he said.

Perry also told Amanpour that he would overturn Obama's decision to end the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy that allows gay men and women to be open about their sexuality, and he accused the president of playing to his "political base" in making the call.

"I think you go back and sit down with your commanders in the field and have that conversation. I think 'don't ask, don't tell' worked very well," Perry said.

Obama, he added, "wanted to make a political statement, using our men and women in the military as the tool for that." Perry, who served in the Air Force in the '70s, labeled Obama's actions "irresponsible," saying that sexuality is private and does not need to be asked or answered among service members.

"'Don't ask, don't tell' was in fact a workable policy," Perry said. "I would be comfortable with our country going back to that."

On domestic policy, Perry came up with a surprising name when asked about whether he can work across the aisle with Democrats: Vice President Joe Biden.

"I could sit down and talk to Joe Biden. I think Joe Biden gets it. I think he's probably a loyal vice president but I think he understands that you cannot take this country forward by increasing taxes," Perry said.

Perry, however, did not answer the specific question from Amanpour, which was to name one Democrat in Texas that he has worked with as governor.

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