GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry criticized President Obama on Wednesday for not arranging a parade to welcome U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq. 

The Texas governor, who has struggled since entering the GOP primary, accused Obama of not properly thanking the military.

"It really disturbs me that nearly after nine years of war in Iraq that this president wouldn’t welcome home our many heroes with a simple parade in their honor," Perry said at a campaign stop in Iowa. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"Maybe it’s because this war is unpopular with the Democrats. I don’t know. But Mr. President, our soldiers come first. And it comes before party politics. We need to welcome our soldiers home. Give them that parade. Give them that pat on the back. Tell them thank you for the freedom that we have."

Mitt Romney, Perry's rival for the GOP presidential nomination, expressed a similar concern earlier on Wednesday on Fox & Friends, saying "a welcome home ceremony of some kind makes a lot of sense.

"The men and women who sacrificed so extraordinarily over the years in Iraq, the families of those that have lost loved ones, I think deserve recognition," he said. "And so whether that's a ticker tape parade or special ceremony somewhere else welcoming our troops home is something they deserve."

ADVERTISEMENT
The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that most homecomings for returning Iraqi soldiers have been quiet and private. 

Some people, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and at least two New York City council members, have expressed interest in a parade marking the return of the troops, but Pentagon officials reportedly have not been asked to plan one. The Pentagon is concerned a "victory" celebration could put troops still serving overseas at risk, according to Fox New York.

Obama marked the official conclusion of the war in Iraq with a speech at Fort Bragg in North Carolina on Dec. 14, calling it "an extraordinary achievement" but emphasizing its "heavy costs" in casualties.

While Democrats hailed Obama's kept promise to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq before the Christmas holiday as a major win, Republicans have been more cautious, many warning the drawdown was too fast and could come at the expense of U.S. gains in the country.

--This post was updated at 11:35 a.m.