Rick Perry's campaign is increasingly on the ropes. His poll numbers hover in the single digits, and it looks like his funders have fled, robbing him of his primary hope to propel himself past the crowded field of anti-Romney candidates. His one last option to maintain relevancy: Appeal to the radical Christian right that cannot fathom voting for a Mormon who was governor of the first state with gay marriage.
Over the weekend, Perry joined a select group of fringe presidential candidates when he signed The Family Leader's presidential pledge. The "Marriage Vow" puts Perry down on paper as endorsing a host of the most extreme elements of social conservatism. It was written by Bob Vander Plaats, a ringleader of Iowa's Christian right. Signers of the pledge vow to push a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, add new restrictions to make divorce more difficult, and fight for the "humane protection of women" from "all forms of pornography."
One clause drew the most attention when the pledge was released this past summer. It reads:
Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA's first African-American President.
Even among the extensive history of outrageous statements from Vander Plaats—he once described homosexuality as a public-health risk akin to second-hand smoke—this clause took things a step too far and was quickly redacted.
Besides Jon Huntsman and, to a lesser extent, Mitt Romney, the current crop of Republican presidential candidates has shown little restraint before signing on to controversial policies. Before Perry, only Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum were willing to sign the Marriage Vow.