AUSTIN, Texas – In a sign of the “values” battle shaping up in South Carolina, Texas Gov. Rick Perry put up his first ad in the state on Friday, highlighting his faith and family, and his small-town background.
The ad is only 30 seconds long, but that long enough for Perry to say the word “values” three times. He is skipping Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary to focus his hopes of resurrecting his campaign in South Carolina, where the GOP primary electorate is dominated by social conservatives.
In the spot, Perry, against a backdrop of photos and footage of his upbringing on a Texas farm, says, "As the son of tenant farmers from the West Texas town of Paint Creek, I learned the values of hard work, faith, and family. I took those values with me when I served our country as a pilot in the Air Force. I returned home to farm and ranch with my father and married my high school sweetheart. The values I learned served me well as governor of Texas and will continue to guide me as president.”
It is Perry’s first ad geared toward South Carolina, where he will compete with former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum for the support of social conservatives, and with Rep. Ron Paul of Texas for the backing of tea party voters, who tend to be among the most conservative in the party. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is also making a play for the state's social conservatives. Front-runner Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, has not so far made cultural issues a major theme of this campaign.
Before the Iowa caucuses , Perry released a torrent of ads in the state that ranged from biographical spots to attack ads portraying his opponents as Washington insiders. None gave him the boost he needed to finish in the top three on Tuesday, and he ended up placing fifth.
Press spokesman Ray Sullivan said that the ad “highlights Governor Perry's perfect-for-South-Carolina status as a principled conservative, man of faith, and proud military veteran." The candidate will travel to South Carolina Sunday after two candidate debates over the weekend.