Perry Sticking with Fischer, the AFA

by Jose Medina

Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign is not going through the best of times right now. After an initial splash that sent Texas’ longest-serving governor to the top of the Republican presidential polls, the campaign has stumbled through a series of gaffes and lackluster debate performances.

So Gov. Perry this week will go back to the basics, once again sharing a venue with the American Family Association hate group and making his faith a political tool as he courts conservative voters. In fact, Gov. Perry is on the Friday schedule for the 2011 Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., as is the AFA.

You’ll recall it was the AFA that sponsored Gov. Perry’s prayer rally at Houston’s Reliant Stadium in early August, an event the AFA and Gov. Perry proclaimed nonpolitical though the AFA later used the event to register voters and the governor formally announced his presidential candidacy a week later.

Don’t expect the same “nonpolitical” proclamations this time around. The Value Voters Summit is all political, all the time. And don’t expect Gov. Perry to distance himself from the AFA or what the Mississippi-based group stands for. He didn’t do so back in August, so don’t expect him to do so now.

You can, however, expect to see something different. That difference is Bryan Fischer, a chief spokesman for the AFA.

Though the AFA sponsored The Response, the organization faded into the background once the actual event rolled around. Fischer for his part also kept a low-profile, save for giving comment to a reporter who approached him while at Reliant.

For the Values Voter Summit, the AFA and Fischer are listed prominently. Fischer is even listed as a speaker during Saturday’s plenary session.

It may be an awkward scene given that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is scheduled to appear immediately before Fischer. In just the last week, Fischer in a blog post has criticized Gov. Romney for not doing anything about the in-room porn while Romney was on the board of Marriott Hotels. Fischer said Gov. Romney’s inaction made him “not Mormon enough.” Fischer followed up his blog post with a radio rant in which he asserted that the religious protections in the First Amendment are for Christians only and do not apply to Mormons.

We have been hopeful that someone — anyone — with presidential ambitions will denounce just one thing that the AFA has said or done. Gov. Perry has given no indication that he will. Maybe, just maybe, Gov. Romney will do so now that he’s been very directly and recently attacked by the AFA.

But really, we’ll be happy if anyone — Cain, Bachmann, Santorum, etc. — finally pushes back on Fischer or the AFA. Or do we have to get a bear to run for president for that to happen?