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Perry Sets Aside Stump Speech to Address Veterans

Gov. Rick Perry set aside his stump speech Monday when speaking at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in San Antonio. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports.

Gov. Rick Perry after his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars annual convention in San Antonio on Aug. 29, 2011.

Even though Gov. Rick Perry is preparing for two upcoming GOP presidential debates, his first since becoming a candidate, he set aside his stump speech when speaking at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in San Antonio on Monday. Perry was invited to speak at the event as the host state's governor — not as a presidential candidate.

His remarks generally stayed away from campaign rhetoric, although he made a few oblique political references.

Perry focused much of his speech on the traditional military messages of honor, duty and service. He also won applause from the crowd when he said U.S. troops can’t be sent to war without what’s needed to be successful, and should never be under the control of another authority.

Audio: Ben Philpott's story for KUT News

“We can not concede the moral authority of our nation to multilateral debating societies," he said. "And when our interests are threatened, our American soldiers should be lead by American commanders."

He also spoke about the need to do more to help soldiers returning home from war.

“A great nation can not turn its eye away from its wounded warriors," Perry said. "We should honor them with the best health care possible, with help transitioning back into civilian life and with jobs.”

He also announced the creation of a new grant program called Housing4TexasHeroes, which will use $3 million in state grants to help service members buy, build, rehabilitate or rent a home.

Perry’s fellow GOP presidential hopeful, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, will address the group on Tuesday. 

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