In South Carolina today, Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s wife, Anita, committed a cardinal campaign sin: Candor. In an address that was sometimes teary, she offered a window into how the family has been dealing with this first two months of the campaign, and admitted to drawing a surprising conclusion: Rick Perry is being attacked by the other Republican candidates because he is a Christian.
“He truly felt like he was called to do this,” she says at one point. “We still feel called to do this. We are being brutalized by our opponents and by our party. So much of that is I think they look at him because of his faith. He is the only true conservative. Well, there are some other conservatives, and they are there for good reasons. And they may feel like God called them too. But I truly feel that we are here for that purpose.”
It is an odd claim, that seems to reference the fact that two of the other candidates in the race, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, are Mormon. It is a clearly an appeal to traditional evangelical voters, many of whom have historically been cool to voting for a Mormon candidate.
Up to this point in the campaign, Anita Perry has been a major behind-the-scenes player, working off camera to shore up support for her husband among religious leaders. She has spoken at length in off-the-record sessions with evangelical audiences, appearing at a recent meeting in San Francisco of the secretive Council For National Policy, and appearing on stage several weeks earlier at a private gathering in Texas at the home of Jim Leininger, a longtime supporter of Perry. Her appearances have drawn rave reviews from the religious crowds. It remains to be seen whether the general public will receive them the same way.
A full video of Anita’s remarks, via NBC News, follows below.