Will ’Gay’ Rumors Resurge with Perry’s Presidential Bid?
With Rick Perry now having entered the race for the GOP's nomination for the 2012 presidential campaign, the Texas governor will, no doubt, soon become embroiled in the hurly-burly that politics at such a high level entail. In particular, Perry's team is braced for a return of rumors from years ago that suggested Perry is a closeted gay man, and that he and his wife had separated.
The rumors are so old that Perry's own detailed refutation is now seven years in the past, noted Politico in a June 20 article that pre-dated by nearly two months Perry's official entry into the race over the weekend.
Politico noted that the rumors persisted for a couple of months seven years ago, fueled by Texas Democrats, and that the mainstream media had looked into the rumors but found nothing concrete to corroborate them. Still, Politico said, Perry's staff was prepared when the site contacted them to ask about the long-cold rumors.
"As you may know, Rick and Anita Perry first met in grade school, went on their first date together in 1966, have been lovingly married since 1982 and are parents to two grown children," Dave Carney, of Perry's staff, told Politico. "This kind of nameless, faceless smear campaign is run against the Perry family in seemingly every campaign, with no basis, truth or success."
Perry's camp called the rumors "false and misleading."
"Texas politics is a full contact sport, live hand grenades and all; unfortunately there are always going to be some people who feel the need to spread false and misleading rumors to advance their own political agenda," Carney added.
Politico noted that similar brass-knuckles tactics had entered the national level of politics in the 2008 elections, when the persistent, and utterly unfounded, rumors about Obama not having been born in the United States began. Other rumors accused Obama of secretly being a Muslim.
Well before the 2008 elections, John McCain found himself the victim of the rumor mill, when it was suggested to voters that McCain had had a child out of wedlock with a woman of another racial demographic. When the McCains appeared in public with their adopted daughter, who was born in Vietnam, many voters took it as proof of the rumors, which were complete fabrications. The truth was of little consequence, however: McCain lost the nomination to George W. Bush.
For some, such rumors may hold enough charge to raise questions about a candidate's credibility. But for others, they are nothing more than a curiosity or an occasion for a spot of fun. An Aug. 13 EDGE blog riffed on Perry's "gay fashion sense."
But as Perry seeks to dominate the GOP field, running against anti-gay social conservatives like Mitt Romney and Michelle Bachmann, the rumors may well resurface. Already, Perry has taken heat for initially saying that the vote in New York to extend marriage equality to gay and lesbian families was strictly a matter of state's rights. In the wake of criticism, Perry quickly modified his stance, saying that he would support an anti-gay amendment to the United States Constitution in order to restrict marriage rights to heterosexual couples.
Michele Bachmann has said both that she sees the issue of marriage as a matter of state's rights, and that she supports a federal amendment that would take the matter out of the hands of states.
For his part, Perry, during appearances over the weekend, focused more on fiscal issues than social matters, repeating the mantra that job creation is key to resorting America's economy.
"It's time to get America working again," Perry told a Charleston, S.C. audience, an Aug. 14 Associated Press story reported. "America is not broken. Washington, D.C. is broken."
Now that Perry has officially entered the race, he is seen as a serious challenge to both Bachmann and Romney right out of the gate. Romney, in particular, is seen as vulnerable to Perry as a challenger for the GOP's nomination, since Perry, an evangelical Christian, holds an appeal for religious conservatives that Romney, a Mormon, was not able to manage in 2008.