Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been the focus of media attention for weeks now as speculation increases that this son of Texas may through his (cowboy) hat into the GOP field of presidential candidates. It is no wonder that Perry’s recent statements have been widely disseminated and scrutinized. And Perry has made news of late for staking unorthodox positions for a conservative on gay marriage and abortion rights.
Speaking in Aspen, Colorado, Perry recently said that gay marriage should be left to the states. “Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me.”
“That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business,” he added.
And now Perry has added abortion to that equation. Perry is pro-life with a record to prove it, but has stated that if the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, Roe. V. Wade, were overturned whether abortion stays legal about be decided by individual states: “You either have to believe in the 10th Amendment or you don’t. You can’t believe in the 10th Amendment for a few issues and then [for] something that doesn’t suit you say, ‘We’d rather not have states decide that.'”
Perry’s acquiescence to gay marriage, or marriage equality as proponents term it, and legalized abortion in accordance with states’ rights may lead many Republicans voters to view with askance any presidential candidacy. Most Republican officials, including declared GOP contenders, and many Republican voters favor nation-wide bans on gay marriage and abortion through amendments to the federal constitution.
Already the National Right to Life Committee has expressed disapproval by way of a press release: “Our society has an obligation to enact laws that recognize and protect the smallest members of our human family. Prior to Roe, states had the ability to enact laws that extended full legal protection to unborn children. We look forward to the day when Roe v. Wade is changed, and the states will once again have the ability to pass legislation that fully protects mothers and their unborn children.”
Were Perry to seek national office, opposition to a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman may harm his chances, especially in early battleground states such as Iowa. Although the Hawkeye state is one of the few to legalize gay marriage after a state supreme court decision, most Republicans remain resolutely opposed. According to a Des Moines Register June poll of likely Republican caucus-goers, 58% would not vote for a candidate who supported even civil unions, which secure some of the same rights and protections as a marriage license but fall short of some matters. Only 27% said it is not an issue.
Perry was lieutenant governor under President George W. Bush and was subsequently elected in his own right to three terms by state voters, most recently in 2010, making him America’s longest-serving governor. He is touted by many conservatives as a strong candidate with solid fiscal and social credentials.
Now a new Gallup poll has Perry at 15% among GOP primary voters, second only to Mitt Romney’s 17%. The fact that Perry has not announced his bid and yet surpassed other prominent declared Republicans, such as Michele Bachmann, speaks to his potential strength as a candidate.
Perry is expected to announced his intentions soon and many supporters are already gearing up for a campaign. But thus far Perry has only intimated his may for president but has yet to take any preliminary steps in that direction, such as forming an exploratory committee.