In an apparent effort to restore his gravitas as a presidential candidate, former Governor Rick Perry delivered a tough foreign policy speech to conservatives this morning that compared problems in the Middle East to securing the Texas border.

Perry focused his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference less on the red meat of domestic politics and more on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of the Crimea and the threat of ISIS. The crowd was enthusiastic for Perry’s foreign policy rhetoric, but gave him only polite applause when he turned to national issues.

To make another presidential run next year, Perry needs to wipe away memories of his disastrous 2012 effort that left many believing he was too much of a lightweight for national leadership.

In his CPAC speech, Perry tore into President Obama for his handling of foreign affairs and blamed him for aggression by Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the rise of ISIS. Perry said ISIS not only wants to kill Christians and Jews, but also any Muslims who disagree with their efforts to take the world back to the Seventh Century.

“Here’s the simple truth of our foreign policy: Our allies doubt us and our adversaries are all too willing to test us. No one should be surprised, no one should be surprised that dictators like Assad would cross the president’s red line because he knows the president will not even defend the line that separates our nation from Mexico,” Perry said.

Perry said he asked the president to provide troops to secure the Texas border last year, and when Obama declined Perry sent National Guard troops to do the task. Perry said the result was a 70 percent decline in border crossings.

For the full Perry speech, click here

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz spoke to the gathering on Thursday. Not surprisingly, Cruz was critical of President Obama and Hillary Clinton and promised to abolish the Affordable Care Act and the Internal Revenue Service. The Dallas Morning News’ Todd J. Gillman reported Cruz also took a swipe at other potential Republican rivals for the presidency.

None, he said, would ever actually stand up and confess ahead of the 2016 race, “Actually, I’m a squishy moderate who stands for nothing.”

Cruz’s full speech can be accessed here.