Texas Governor Rick Perry has again reached out to the social conservative and evangelical wing of the Republican Party to assure them he shares their values.
The Texas Tribune newspaper reported that Perry recently attended a private get-together at a Hill Country Texas ranch owned by businessman and big-time political donor James Leininger, in which he answered a range of questions before a crowd of up to 200 arch-conservatives.
According to the Tribune, Perry told the group that he was unalterably opposed to abortion and would select a Vice-President who shared this view. He also promised the well-heeled assembly that there is nothing embarrassing in her personal life that could be unearthed during the campaign.
“I can assure you that there is nothing in my life that will embarrass you if you decide to support me for president,” Perry reportedly said, according to a crowd member.
Reportedly, Perry gave detailed responses on his views on other such polarizing subjects as immigration, gay marriage.
Among the attendees, the Tribune reported, were James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and radio host; conservative writer Richard Viguerie; and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
The meeting was reportedly organized by David Barton, a former Texas Republican Party official, although he did not attend.
Perkins told the Tribune: “It was an off-the-record, private meeting. It was informational, [for] people that had not met him before. It was the first in a series of meetings that are going to take place with some of the candidates that have requested to meet with social conservative leaders.”
Perkins added: “[Perry] speaks with ease on these issues. It’s very natural for him. He’s not reading a campaign speech.
Perkins praised Perry’s forthrightness.
I think he has the answers that are satisfactory when those issues are brought up, he said. I think he is addressing them with the leaders in that community and as that information disseminates, I think he will be fine.”
In the event Sarah Palin does not enter the presidential race, Perry needs to seize the support of social conservatives and evangelicals, who make up a sizable portion of the Republican constituency, particularly in the South – as much as 30 to 40 percent in some states.