As he gears up for his inevitable run for president, Rick Perry is doing his very best to shield his inner kook and maintain some semblance of populism. But in the last couple days, two Perry allies have taken it upon themselves to paint the Republicans' Great God-Fearing Hope as unelectable as possible.
It started yesterday. After the fury of outrage over Perry's planned prayer rally, Eric Bearse, the spokesman for the event, had an opportunity to reiterate Perry's claim that the event was open to folks of all religions -- "including," Bearse could have said, "all you nice Jews, who, despite killing Jesus, have done so well mowing the lawns in the Holy Land for His eventual return that we'd totally be down to pray for you."
Instead, Bearse went with the exact opposite strategy, saying this to American Family Radio:
"A lot of people want to criticize what we're doing, as if we're somehow being exclusive of other faiths. But anyone who comes to this solemn assembly, regardless of their faith tradition or background, will feel the love, grace, and warmth of Jesus Christ in that assembly hall, in that arena. And that's what we want to convey, that there's acceptance and that there's love and that there's hope if people will seek out the living Christ."
Translation: As long as the doors to your heart are open -- and wide enough for Christ to come flying in -- you're more than welcome.
Perry, as far as I can tell, has yet to turn a hose on Bearse's warmth-of-Jesus-Christ routine. But he is running away from one supporter of his pet legislative project: the banning of nonexistent sanctuary cities.
The bill would require cities to allow their police officers to ask about immigration status in routine stops and arrests. That way, Perry's thinking goes, no Texas cities can ban their law enforcement agents from asking about immigration status, mitigating the risk of a city becoming a haven for illegal immigrants. Sanctuary cities don't really exist in Texas, and cops hate the bill, but xenophobic anti-immigration crusaders think it's swell. And one such support thinks she has an idea why such obviously noble legislation doesn't sail through the Capitol and right to Perry's desk untouched.
"If you want to know why we can't pass legislation in Texas, it's because we have 37, no, 36 Hispanics in the Legislature," Rebecca Forest, a co-founder of the Immigration Reform Coalition of Texas, said at a recent rally for the bill. "So, that's part of our problem, and we need to change those numbers. We need to do something about that in fact."
The comments, made Saturday, emerged yesterday and had the bill's supporters running for cover.
"The governor certainly does not agree with such misguided and unproductive comments," Perry spokeswoman Catherine Frazier told the San Antonio News-Express. "This is not about race or politics -- it is about public safety. We must ensure our peace officers have the discretion they need to keep Texans safe."
Especially the Christian ones.
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