Rick Perry’s Non-Denial

“Oh, no you don’t. Get back here, Gov. Perry!” is what might have crossed the minds of the folks at the American Family Association and other extremists who have endorsed the governor’s prayer rally, The Response, when they read some of his comments in a Dallas Morning News story last week.

For the first time — and it took him a while — Gov. Perry has begun to inch away from the extremist views of the people he agreed to share a stage with at his August 6 event in Houston.

He had this to say when asked about the views of the people he’s partnering with for The Response:

“I appreciate anyone who’s going to endorse me, whether it’s on The Response or whether it’s on a potential run for the presidency of the United States. Just because you endorse me doesn’t mean I endorse everything that you say or do.”

And Gov. Perry also said this:

“I’m sure that through my elections in the past that there have been some groups that have endorsed me publicly, that I appreciate their endorsements, but their endorsements of me doesn’t mean I endorse what they believe in or what they say.”

He may not agree with everything they say, but inviting them to share the stage with him and organize his event gives those people and their views legitimacy. And just as troubling, while Gov. Perry says he doesn’t endorse those views, he also hasn’t denounced them. He had a golden opportunity to do so when he spoke to reporters, but he didn’t take it. So his non-endorsement doesn’t give us any insight into whether he also believes that the Statue of Liberty is a demonic idol, statutes of Catholic saints should be destroyed, Oprah is the forerunner to the antichrist, or gay people should be blamed for the Holocaust. Maybe he’s waiting to publicly reject such outrageous and offensive statements when he shares the stage with the people who said them? We’re not holding our breath.

Do you think Gov. Perry would ignore other politicians — especially those he opposes — if they were palling around with extremists yet trying to divorce themselves from their views the way he is? Probably not.

Gov. Perry’s comments are part of what appears to be a larger attempt to distance himself form the extremists organizing the rally and their views. In addition to the comments, organizers have somewhat scrubbed the rally website of these people and Gov. Perry himself will perhaps not speak at his own event.