GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry on Wednesday criticized President Obama for "allowing" $600 billion in automatic cuts to defense spending to proceed, saying the U.S. "could see another Pearl Harbor" as a result.
"If we allow our military to be cut as much as this president's talking about allowing it to be cut, you could have another Pearl Harbor in this country," Perry warned on CNN. He suggested North Korea, Iran or Syria could threaten the United States.
Perry accused Obama of using the military "as a political tool" in two areas: the automatic cuts triggered by the failed deficit-reduction supercommittee that are set to go into effect in 2013, and overturning the military "Don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Perry said he would re-implement the policy as president.
"'Don't ask, don't tell,' worked fine," Perry said, also calling it "the right policy" to handle gay and lesbian members of the military. "Listen, I wore the uniform. I was a pilot in the United States Air Force. And I think that the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy was working fine."
Obama's reelection campaign has touted the successful overturning of the military's official policy against openly gay service members as one of the top achievements of Obama's first term. It's a topic Perry has criticized Obama on in the past, and he also brought it up in a new TV ad vowing to end "Obama's war on religion."
Perry said in the ad: "There's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school."
Perry has been intensifying his faith-based campaign appeals recently in TV ads targeting in Iowa.
On CNN, Perry denied that Iowa is "do-or-die" for his campaign, although he called the state "the real focus" right now. He said he hasn't decided yet whether he will participate in the GOP debate set for Dec. 27 that will be moderated by Donald Trump. Several other candidates have opted out, some citing Trump as their reason.
"We're right in the middle of a very, very important bus tour [in Iowa] when that was planned," Perry said. He added that he talked to Trump about it the previous day. "We're still giving it consideration, but the people of Iowa come first."
Iowa evangelicals are looking for candidate still, Perry said, "and I think I fit their mold quite well."
Perry is polling at 11 percent in Iowa in the latest New York Times-CBS News poll released on Tuesday.
"By watching the last four of us that were at the top of the polls, I would suggest to you that it's possible for anyone [to implode]," Perry said, noting Newt Gingrich is at the top right now. "It's a very, very fluid race, in Iowa in particular."