powerful group of Christian Right leaders, dissatisfied with the current GOP presidential field, has agreed that Texas Gov. Rick Perry would be their preferred candidate for the Republican nomination, according to TIME. These influential figures, who include Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Texas activist David Barton, have begun privately urging Perry to launch a bid for the White House. If he runs, does Perry have a lock on the conservative Christian vote?
The Christian Right has good reason to back Perry: It's surprising that conservative evangelical leaders "find the present GOP field so dismal," says Tina Korbe at Hot Air, as Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum are as socially conservative as they come. But it's no surprise that the Christian Right would be enamored with Rick Perry, too. He recently signed a gay-marriage ban into law at a Christian school, with Tony Perkins in attendance.
"Leaders of the Christian Right find their preferred candidate in Rick Perry"
And Perry probably is their best bet: The Texas governor has one thing going for him that Bachmann and Santorum don't: "Geography," says Grace Wyler at The Business Insider. "Many Christian Right leaders believe the Republican primary schedule lends itself to a Southern candidate," which rules out Bachmann and fellow Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty "despite their Christian conservative bona fides." With former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee ruling out a run, and the campaign of Georgia's Newt Gingrich imploding, "by default, Perry is the best match for the Christian Right."
"Can the Christian Right convince Rick Perry to run for president?"
But it could cost Perry the Tea Party: The Texas governor "might do well to curry favor with these groups in so far as votes are concerned," says Marcus Carey at RedState. But courting the Christian Right would also be a risky move. Gay marriage, smoking pot, and pre-marital sex "send the hard core Religious Right into conniption fits," but the more libertarian members of the Tea Party movement see them as "life choices" that "ought to be beyond government control." If Perry's not careful, he could lose the Tea Party.
"Risks and rewards: Rick Perry the favorite of Christian Right"
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