Texas Democrats weren’t happy when Governor Rick Perry headed overseas in spite of the first diagnosed cases of Ebola in the U.S. appearing in Texas.

While this might have served as a valuable distraction from Wendy Davis’s falling poll numbers, Perry’s decision to maintain his international schedule is shaping up to put him ahead of the growing pack of candidates expected to seek the Republican presidential nomination.

Even David Frum at The Atlantic has been forced to admit that Perry is building momentum both for his own campaign, and for America’s foundering international reputation. In his article, Frum compares Perry’s speeches overseas with those given during Obama’s now-infamous “apology tour”—and emphasizes the crucial difference between the two statesmen:

Like Obama, Perry acknowledged faults and flaws in American democracy and European history. But he seemed to have Obama’s ‘fault on both sides’ argument very much in mind when he countered with these words: “The shortcomings of Western democracies, the systematic savagery of the enemy—to a certain way of thinking, it all gets mixed up as one: ‘They’ve got bad guys over there, we’ve got a few of our own—what’s the difference?’”

Perry’s London speech focused on the threat from ISIS and the Middle East. In Warsaw, he would have spoken about another—nearer—challenge: from Vladimir Putin and a revanchist Russia. In his prepared, undelivered remarks, Perry paid due tribute to the fact that it is the president, not governors—not even Texas governors—who make America’s foreign policy.

The list of Republican candidates for 2016 is long. Still, a Texas governor always belongs near the top of that list given the state’s lode of electoral votes and deep-pocketed donors.

You should really read the entire article; it’s extraordinarily gracious considering Perry’s history on the national stage.

Conventional knowledge tells us that foreign policy is traditionally not the platform plank that gets voters to the polls; but that’s not to say that Perry can’t use the current crisis to his advantage.

Rick Perry recently called for a controversial travel ban from west Africa; while some politicians have focused on attacking the Obama Administration for mishandling the crisis, however, Perry’s travels have allowed him to discuss the issue outside of the domestic policy echo chamber.

This is an important distinction, and one that Perry needs to exploit if he wants to force America to forget his disastrous 2012 presidential run.

Contrary to the popular wisdom of the moment, Rick Perry did not bring Ebola to our shores. The fact that Perry attempted to keep Texas calm after the first case was diagnosed does not mean that he was ignoring reality; nor does his decision to travel overseas.

Anyone can stand in front of a camera and blame Obama or the border crisis or the CDC for Ebola; but the key to building momentum with foreign policy is twofold: practical experience, and the ability to work toward solutions.

With the country becoming increasingly nervous about the affect events overseas can have on our shoes, any effort by a politician to reach beyond the echo chamber is going to gain the attention of voters.

If Perry can begin to build his momentum on what is without a doubt the most difficult policy area for candidates to navigate, he’ll already be ahead of the game.

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