Texas Gov. Rick Perry is not doing anything to dispel rumors that he's weighing a presidential bid by inviting the country's 49 other governors to a massive prayer event, saying "there is hope for America... and we will find it on our knees." Perry's prayer circle, called "The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis," takes place August 6 and is paid for by the American Family Association, a conservative Christian group based in Mississippi. Admission is free. So is the publicity!
The event's website says these are dark days for the U.S.: "We have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. The youth of America are in grave peril economically, socially, and, most of all, morally." It's time "to pray for a historic breakthrough for our country and a renewed sense of moral purpose." The Houston Chronicle's Nolan Hicks says the event's site--a football stadium--"indicates that organizers are aiming to make a splash with the event."
Perry has called on divine assistance before, as when wildfires ravaged his state in April, telling Texans to spend three days praying for rain, Reuters' Jim Forsyth reports. And he's well-known for his social conservatism--like when he said a state law gay sex was "appropriate" before the Supreme Court overturned it. Hicks notes that the event's "playbill... hits all of the notes that a candidate seeking the GOP nomination would be expected to hit (see: debasement of society)."
But firing up evangelicals might not be good enough for Perry's national ambitions. NBC's First Read says that "Perry’s main problem is with the establishment wing of the party. If you’re going to win the GOP nomination, you need to win over the establishment, plus either the Tea Party or evangelical wings of the party. JUST having the Tea Party and the evangelical wing isn't enough, if major parts of the establishment are against you. And Perry's got a LOT of political enemies who have 'Bush' on their resumes."
Still, Politico's Mike Allen says that Perry is discussing a possible 2012 run with his major financial backers in Texas. He thinks he could win the Republican nomination if Sarah Palin sits out the race. But a Perry run makes "no sense to some of the nation's top Republicans, who think American has Texas fatigue, and who found Perry's comments about Texas secession to be boneheaded," Allen writes, saying a 2016 campaign looks more probable.
The establishment might be skeptical, but one person isn't: Ted Nugent. Nugent endorsed a Perry 2012 campaign in The Washington Times Monday.