Texas Governor Rick Perry assured a gathering of uncommitted evangelical voters that nothing in his past would be an embarrassment if they chose to support his candidacy for the nation's top job. James Leininger, a major GOP donor, hosted the event at his Hill Country Texas ranch last weekend.
Perry had the opportunity to spend several hours rubbing shoulders with the conservative group, discussing a variety of topics ranging from abortion, immigration reform and other issues important to conservatives.
One of the attendees asked Perry about his past. With his wife, Anita, by his side, Perry assured the group that nothing in his personal life would be a deterrent to his campaign for the White House.
“I can assure you that there is nothing in my life that will embarrass you if you decide to support me for president,” Perry said, according to a person in attendance that reported the comment to The Texas Tribune.
Mark Miner, Perry’s campaign spokesperson, said the Texas governor is used to campaign scrutiny and is always prepared to handle challenging questions.
“The governor takes questions at many events he goes to and he answers them appropriately and honestly," Miner told The Texas Tribune. “He gets questions whether it’s public meetings or private meetings.”
Some of the nation's top evangelical and Christian leaders, including James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and representatives of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List were also in attendance. Christian historian and founder of WallBuilders, David Barton, helped organize the event but did not attend.
Texas first lady Anita Perkins also addressed the group and confirmed to the group her husband’s views on same-sex marriage and abortion.
“It was respectful but purposeful,” the participant told the Tribune. “The questions were direct.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told The Christian Post that the event last weekend was a private, off-the-record meeting with conservative leaders who wanted to hear more about Perry’s vision for America. However, he did comment on the GOP field in general.
“It’s interesting to look at the field of candidates running in the Republican presidential primary,” said Perkins. “All except one gives a nod to conservative issues. While some liberal pundits make fun of Republicans for talking about social issues, it further makes the point that pro-family issues are important to the majority of voters across America. I think whoever wins the GOP primary will represent the interest of value voters.
Since Perry announced his candidacy in early August, he has risen quickly in the polls, surpassing Rep. Michele Bachman (R-Minn.) and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in the most recent Gallup poll.
According to another attendee, Perry also assured the group that if he did win the nomination, he would select a pro-life running mate.