Perry Focuses On Faith At Christian University
At an evangelical Christian school in Virginia on Wednesday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry found an audience warmly receptive to his message about his own religious commitment.
Perry, the current front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, visited Liberty University after what some considered a lackluster showing in this week's Tea Party debate in Tampa.
Perry didn't deliver his traditional stump speech: Instead of attacks on President Obama and his GOP challengers, Perry spoke about his inspirations and his personal faith.
"What I learned as I wrestled with God is that I didn't have to have all the answers — that they would be revealed to me in due time," he said. "And that I needed to trust him."
The governor made no mention of Social Security, immigration or his controversial attempt to mandate a cervical cancer vaccine for young girls in Texas. The closest he got to politics was talking about the fight for freedom in the U.S. and around the world — and a quick nod to the Republican message of cutting government spending.
"You have the right to insist on change. To tell the people in power that you will not have your inheritance spent or your future mortgaged," he said.
Liberty University, founded by the late minister and televangelist Jerry Falwell, bills itself as the largest Christian university in the world. It has been a favorite campaign stop for candidates trying to solidify or improve their social conservative credentials.
But the school's current chancellor, Jerry Falwell Jr., says that doesn't mean only Christian candidates need apply.
"We don't encourage our students to have a litmus test based on a candidate's theology," Falwell says. "But the issues are what we care about, where they stand on all the issues that matter — social conservatives to fiscal conservatives — and that's always been our position."
Perry's not the only GOP candidate pushing his social conservative credentials.
Liberty University student Danna Cahn liked what she heard from Perry, but says she's pulled to another candidate.
"I have looked into a lot of stuff about Michele Bachmann, and I do like her a lot, too," Cahn says. "I'm just trying to stick with the conservative movement, just to choose from there."
Student Shaquille Cook says it's great that Perry and other presidential candidates are planning stops at Liberty. He just hopes the Texas governor and others aren't simply putting on a Christian face for their visits.
When Perry leaves Liberty and travels to other places, Cook says, "is his message going to be the same as it was here?"
Bachmann visits Liberty later this month. Falwell says all the presidential candidates, including Obama, have been invited to speak.