(Photo: Reuters / Lee Celano)
In an effort to revitalize his declining presidential campaign, Texas Gov. Rick Perry tried to appeal to the Republican base Friday night. He appeared at a conservative event in Manchester, N.H., in front of a crowd of 450, and advocated for the state to take a more conservative agenda.
First on the list of hot-button topics was homosexuality. He urged the state to repeal the 2009 law that legalized same-sex marriage. New Hampshire was the sixth state in the nation to legalize gay marriage.
"As conservatives we believe in the sanctity of life. We believe in the sanctity of traditional marriage," said Perry at the annual banquet for Cornerstone Action, a conservative advocacy group. "And I applaud those legislators in New Hampshire who are working to defend marriage as an institution between one man and one woman, realizing that children need to be raised in a loving home by a mother and a father."
Perry commended traditional marriage advocates in the state for their recent efforts at repealing the law.
This past week, a law that would repeal the gay marriage bill, replacing it with civil unions, advanced through the House Judiciary Committee. The committee voted 11-6 to recommend the bill for a vote. The full House must vote on bills early next year; if it passes the House then it will move on to the Senate.
But Gov. John Lynch (D) has said he will veto the repeal bill if it comes to his desk, according to The Associated Press.
Furthermore, Reuters indicates that a bill repealing same-sex marriages might not be popular among N.H. residents. A poll from the University of New Hampshire (UNH) this month reveals that 62 percent of residents oppose repealing the same-sex law – including most of likely Republican primary voters. Only 27 percent of likely voters support repealing it.
Perry also touched on the topic of abortion. He lauded state efforts to end all government health contracts with Planned Parenthood because some of the group’s clinics provide abortions. Under the current law, federal dollars are prohibited from funding abortions.
"For some candidates the issue of life is a slogan for the campaign. It's how to get some votes," he said, a poke at opponent Mitt Romney who has been known to flip-flop on the abortion issue in his political career.
"To me it's about an enduring principal that innocent human life should be protected in all forms and at all stages of life."
The New York Times reports that Perry told a local radio program that conservative voters want a nominee who has a “a consistent record, not being this side of an issue in this election, this side of that issue in another election.”
Earlier this year in his own home state of Texas, Perry signed a bill restricting government funds from Planned Parenthood.
The federal government’s funding of the organization, however, was restored by Washington in September when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determined that the state was in “violation of rules requiring it to provide family planning services statewide,” according to Reuters.
Perry labeled this move as unconstitutional and as an advancement of state’s rights.
"If you want to stop Washington's big violations of the (constitution), especially when it comes to the most basic principle of protecting life, then we must make President Obama a one-term president,” Perry said at the convention.
The New York Times reports that Planned Parenthood picketed outside the event.
Another UNH poll shows that N.H. is among the more liberal states in supporting abortion rights. A February poll reveals that 88 percent of state residents believe that abortion should always be legal or legal in certain circumstances.
In a Real Clear Politics poll, Perry is in third place among the GOP candidates overall with 10.5 percent support. He trails Cain with 25 percent and Romney with 24.3 percent. However, in a New Hampshire CNN/Time poll, Perry is in sixth place with just 4 percent while Romney leads the N.H. polls with 40 percent. Perry has mainly focused his early campaign on Iowa.