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Rick Perry: 'Operation Fast And Furious,' Other Obama Policies Have Made U.S.-Mexico Border Less Safe

BETH FOUHY and PHILIP ELLIOTT   11/18/11 07:28 PM ET  AP

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry says President Barack Obama and his administration are responsible for policies that have endangered agents patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border.

NEW YORK — Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry assailed President Barack Obama anew Friday – this time on an arms-trafficking probe and jobs – as part of a recent push by the Texas governor to shift the focus from his GOP rivals and his struggling campaign to the Democratic incumbent.

But several of Perry's claims against Obama have been exaggerated, misrepresented or flat out wrong.

As the day began, Perry, in New York City to accept an award from the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation, said that inadequate funding and "bureaucratic bungling" by Washington had made the southern border more dangerous. He cited Operation Fast and Furious that was run by the Justice Department and allowed AK-47s and other weapons to leak into the black market.

Perry singled out Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration for criticism.

But The Associated Press has reported that an investigation into the operation has turned up Justice Department documents indicating that the so-called "gun walking" tactic at issue also was used during the Republican administration of George W. Bush.

Perry also did not acknowledge that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has more agents on the Southwest border than ever, or that Homeland Security has unmanned drones covering the entire border from California to Texas for the first time.

In an interview later Friday, Perry incorrectly said Obama was in Myanmar to ship jobs to Asia.

"We've got huge issues facing this country today and he's in Burma talking about relations with a country that – I'll be real honest with you – I don't know what America's interest is there," Perry told Fox News Channel.

Obama was actually in Indonesia, where he signed a trade deal that will send Boeing planes to an Indonesian company and create jobs in the U.S. It's Boeing's largest order for commercial planes. Perry said it meant nothing for America's workers.

"How about scoring a big deal for Boeing in South Carolina?" Perry said. "We ought to be creating jobs in America. We ought to be putting tax policy, regulatory policy in place. We ought to be creating markets for what we build in America for foreign markets."

In Indonesia, Obama also announced that he was sending Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Myanmar to help accelerate reforms there.

The Texas governor's campaign fortunes have fallen in recent weeks, and his advisers hope his stepped-up criticism of Obama and Washington could help reinvigorate his campaign less than seven weeks before Iowa's caucuses on Jan. 3.

Polls show Perry badly trailing several of his rivals in Iowa, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and Georgia businessman Herman Cain.

Perry's comments Friday came just days after his campaign released an ad that took out of context a comment Obama made and gave viewers the impression that the president had said all Americans are lazy. Obama was talking about the U.S. record of attracting foreign investment.

Perry defended the ad in an evening interview with Fox News Channel: "That's a fair ad. Absolutely."

"I think he's talking about America. ... If he believed that Americans were hard working, that they were ready to ignite this economy, then we wouldn't have the tax policies and the regulatory policies in place that are killing jobs in this country," Perry said.

In an interview earlier with the network, Perry wrongly claimed that Obama came from a privileged background and didn't understand ordinary people's problems.

"He never had to really work for anything. He never had to go through what Americans are going through," Perry said. "We need a president who has been through their ups and downs in life and understands what it's like to have to deal with the issues of our economy that we have today in America."

Obama was raised by a single mother who, at times, used food stamps, and his grandparents, who lived in a modest apartment in Honolulu.

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Elliott reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Pete Yost in Washington also contributed to this report.

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Follow Beth Fouhy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bfouhy

Follow Philip Elliott on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Philip_Elliott

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