Did Homophobic Ad Derail Perry’s Presidential Aspirations?
Governor Rick Perry may be returning to Texas, or he may actually compete in South Carolina. We don’t know for sure, but observers seem more certain that a December ad in which he criticized gay servicemembers contributed to Perry’s lackluster performance in the Iowa caucuses that may have been the beginning of the end of his campaign.
"I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m Christian," said Perry in the Strong ad. "But you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know that there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in schools."
The ad went viral, registering 25,000 likes and nearly 735,000 dislikes on YouTube.
R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans described the ad as divisive. It was also not the best move in terms of political strategy.
"It wasn’t just a gay consultant who said this was a bad idea, it was a host of other individuals on the campaign who said ’why would you want to run an ad like this?’" said Cooper.
Perry began his campaign in August by targeting a broad electorate, promising to run on jobs and the economy. Somewhere along the line that broad message went negative. Cooper said the Strong ad may have been the result of an all too apparent battle for direction within the Perry campaign.
Politics, said Cooper, is about addition, and candidates focused on division don’t tend to find success in a general election. And it only goes so far in Iowa.
"The Strong ad put the nail in the coffin for a number of Republican voters," said Cooper. "They were already concerned about his ability to transition from a state roll to a national role, there were questions about his skill set when it came to matters of foreign policy and national security, which are certainly outside his sphere as governor of Texas."
Michael Diviesti, state lead with GetEQUAL TX also referred to the Strong ad as the beginning of Perry’s downfall.
"Many asked why would you even bring that up about gays in the military," said Diviesti. "You can’t pander to the fringe element and win the presidency. He was obviously trying to use that video and the prayer rally to grab the extreme right fringe vote."
Iowa voters, it would seem, were asking similar questions. Perry gained just over 10 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s contest. Late that evening it seemed as though the Texas governor may bow out.
"With the voters’ decision tonight in Iowa, I decided to return to Texas, assess the results of tonight’s caucus, determine whether there is a path forward for myself in this race," Perry told supporters there.
By Wednesday morning however, reports were coming out that Perry was on to South Carolina, skipping the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 10. But that may not be the case either.