Ed. Note: Former Gov. Rick Perry met
privately with pastors in Charleston on April 6, 2015. South Carolina Pastors Alliance executive director Kevin R. Baird, D.Min
observations on the group's Facebook page:
Evaluation of Governor Rick Perry
With the start of the 2016 Presidential cycle, I knew that there would be numbers of GOP candidates coming out of the woodwork to run against the abysmal record of this administration. Anyone remotely connected to conservative politics understands why. We, as a nation, are sitting on a precipice of numerous potential disasters. I also understood that there could be several candidates who would be reaching out to conservative, evangelical Christians who, by all estimates, are a sleeping giant when it comes to electoral power. My delight and my concern was that several of these candidates could be viable choices for evangelicals. I am delighted that faith might be front and center of the political process. I am concerned that too many choices dilutes our influence by spreading our vote amongst the pack. Governor Perry is my second up close and personal interaction with a possible presidential candidate and I am finding my delights and concerns to be valid. It was a short one hour meeting which really had little time for questions. Despite that, several points can be shared.
1. The governor, like most politicians, is affable and comfortable in a room with a small group of people. He is likable and personal. I sensed no arrogance or pride in his presentation as he reviewed his record as a governor of 14 years of the large state of Texas whose economy would rival some nations. This is probably an important point to underscore. He has impressive executive experience. This nation has painfully experienced 8 years of this administration getting its "on the job training" and a definite strength is an experienced executive of a large state like Texas.
2. His personal narrative and testimony are credible. Governor Perry has been involved in gathering evangelicals for prayer events and uses the vocabulary of one who has a warm, relationship with the Lord. He was saved as a teenager at a "country revival" in a small Texas town. He doesn't seem to mind hanging out with conservative, evangelical pastors. He had a great line tonight when he said that it was important for a President to send the right signal to a nation on Sunday by attending Church consistently and not the golf course. I know there is more to that than optics, but I still had to chuckle.
3. He was a pilot in our nations military. Military experience might be on the radar for Americans again. Perhaps for American evangelicals, who are watching the slaughter of their Christian brothers and sisters overseas, that feature might become all the more important. As a side note, his flight experience almost landed him a job as a pilot for Wycliffe Translators in South America. I thought this was another indicator of his "faith" fruit that would be important to our community.
4. Governor Perry mentioned that for him government service was a "type" of call. He likened it to a "pulpit" of sorts. Quoting the familiar phrase often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words", he was able to springboard to many of the concerns we have as an evangelical community. He has a record of protecting unborn life (albeit using the failed incremental approach, but no politician is thinking outside that box yet). He is certainly comfortable holding up his record and while I have not explored all that transpired in Texas over those 14 years, you cannot dismiss that there were some notable accomplishments.
5. I was interested to hear that Texas moved from 27th to 2nd in education in his leadership years and in particular that Texas became 1st in education with regards to Hispanics and African American communities. These statistics are impressive and I would love to hear more about how that was accomplished.
6. Governor Perry also mentioned a conservative plan to deal with non-violent criminals in Texas which actually closed 3 prisons. (Obviously a savings to the taxpayer) He mentioned that it is not enough to be only "strong" on crime but also "smart" on crime. Again, there was not enough time to hear the story.
7. The governor was amazingly transparent on his last presidential run (2012). He struck a good tone of explaining about his back surgery before one of the debates (something I did not know) and not realizing the toll the surgery would produce as he presented his case before the American people. It wasn't an "excuse", but a helpful explanation. (This is my speculation at this point, if a person is fighting back pain, I can only imagine the inability to process things in your mind...and do it on national TV.)
The meeting concluded and the governor mentioned that it would be May or June before he would make a decision about the presidential race.
People have asked if I am ready to support or endorse anyone yet. My answer is no, not yet. I want the South Carolina Pastors Alliance to be a fair setting for pastors to have a chance to vet these candidates. I will eventually run with someone, but I want to be sure pastors get the chance to interact with them all -AND- I want politicians to interact with pastors and realize we are on the WALL.
Any way....hope that helps. If anyone else was at the meeting, please feel free to add your insight below. Some of the SCPA guys will be meeting the Governor tomorrow in Columbia and I would value their insight below as well. If you have a question, ask and I will tell you what I know or say, "I don't know". God Bless!