Today, Aug. 6, 2011, Gov. Rick Perry received the support of a major Texas far-right figure, then took the stage in front of hundreds of social conservatives at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.
Wait. Check that. Today is Oct. 7, 2011. Excuse the déjà vu, but we’ve been watching the 2011 Values Voter Summit, which kicked off today in Washington, D.C., with almost all of the 2012 Republican presidential candidates in attendance. That’s where Gov. Perry was, again using faith as a political tool to court voters, and again receiving the support of a major religious-right activist, kind of like what happened at the Response on Aug. 6.
This time around the support came from Robert Jeffress, the senior pastor of First Baptist Church out of Dallas. Jeffress endorsed Gov. Perry’s presidential bid early Friday and later introduced the governor for his VVS speech.
Jeffress is not unlike some of the folks we saw at The Response. He’s anti-Muslim, venomously anti-gay rights, and — in what would make a meeting with Mitt Romney really, really awkward — asserts Mormonism is a cult:
“Between Perry and Romney, we ought to prefer a born-again Christian. I think there are a lot of Christian voters who don’t want to appear bigoted, and so what they say to the pollsters is not necessarily what they’ll do in the privacy of the polling booth. And I frankly believe if Gov. Romney is the nominee, I believe Barack Obama will be the next president.”
Jeffress is par for the course for Gov. Perry and his willingness to associate with the fringe of the fringe. If you check out the people with whom he was more than happy to associate with for The Response, Gov. Perry’s acceptance of the Jeffress endorsement shouldn’t surprise you one bit.
Sure, The Response took place before Gov. Perry officially declared for president. But don’t expect Gov. Perry to disassociate himself from Jeffress and his extreme views now that he’s officially in the race. As a Perry spokesperson told ABC News:
“The governor doesn’t judge what is in the heart and soul of others.”
Another Gov. Perry spokesman later added that the Texas governor does not believe Mormonism is a cult.