Gary Bauer, president of the social-conservative organization, American Values, and a former GOP presidential candidate, acknowledges that he did “a double take” when Perry became the only Republican governor to endorse Giuliani. But he points out that Perry wasn’t the only surprise Giuliani endorser last cycle: Well-known evangelical Pat Robertson also startled many when he endorsed Giuliani.
“In the real world, even in caucuses like Iowa where you have a lot of activists that show up, I don’t think at the end of the day who somebody endorsed in 2008 is going to be, for most people, the main factor,” Bauer says.
“I don’t consider it to be fatal,” agrees Reed,. “If it were combined with a lot of other things, it might be different.”
“Iowans are a pretty fair lot. Once [Perry] gets past those types of things,” Vander Plaat says, “they’re really going to want to hear about his vision for the country. If they can agree with that vision, they’re going to want to size him up to see if he’s the one who can defeat Obama at the end of the day.”
What has helped boost Perry in the eyes of evangelicals is a mindset that appears to be focused beyond the primary and to November 2012. Thus, while Land thinks that Perry needs to admit that he was wrong to mandate the vaccine, he approvingly concedes that Perry is a “very shrewd and crafty politician,” whose most appealing trait to evangelicals may be his ability to be “a formidable candidate against Obama.” What Perry could bring to the race, argues Perkins, is “a higher level of recognition, as the governor of the second largest state geographically.” He predicts that, if he announces, Perry “immediately jumps toward the head of the pack.”
Likewise, Bauer sees Perry’s gubernatorial experience as a substantial asset.
“Social conservatives, along with every other kind of hyphenated conservatives, are all looking for the same thing,” he surmises. “We want the most conservative candidate we can find who can also end the Obama nightmare.”