2012 GOP presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry has been slipping in the polls for the last few weeks, making way for candidates like Herman Cain to take the lead. Perry's performance in the debates has led to disappointing polling numbers while his wife, Anita, said in South Carolina that they are being brutalized by the GOP party for their Christian faith.
Governor Perry is unveiling his "Energizing American Jobs and Security" plan today in Pittsburgh. This morning on American Morning, Ali Velshi asks the governor about what we can expect from his jobs plan and Tuesday's upcoming CNN debate.
Velshi also asks how his wife Anita is handling the ups and downs of the campaign.
"You know, family members always take these campaigns more substantially personal than the candidate," Perry says. "I’ve been doing this a long time. I understand slings and arrows, and that’s a diversion frankly. This is the big leagues. Everyone understands that. It’s about the presidency of the United States. And we’re committed to this campaign.”
Velshi also asks Perry about Rev. Robert Jeffress, who caused some controversy when in the speech introducing Perry at last weekend's Values Voter Summit. He said the Texas governor was a genuine follower of Jesus Christ unlike another candidate he did not name. Jeffress later said he believes voters should choose Perry over Romney because Romney is a Mormon and Mormons are “not Christians,” and also called Mormonism a cult. Velshi asks if Perry was prepared to disavow the pastor.
“We live in a great country," Perry responds. "Our founding fathers gave us freedom of religion. And we certainly have that in America and I respect that. We have religions of all backgrounds. But we also have freedom of speech and I’m not going to spend my time defending everything that is said by someone who endorse me. It doesn’t mean I endorse what they said, and that is the case here."
Velshi also asks about what critics say is Perry's lackluster performance at recent debates.
"You know I hope I make progress every day in my life as well as my debate performances, but again Americans aren’t looking for the best debater,” Perry says.