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Perry's Mixed Messages to Jewish Voters

Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to the Jewish Republican Coalition's 2012 Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011.(Chet Susslin)

December 7, 2011

Shortly before Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry is scheduled to make his pitch to Jewish voters at a forum sponsored by the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, he released a new ad that would make many of them squirm.

"I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a Christian, but you don't need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school,'' he says in the television spot.
While Republicans have had success courting the most religious, pro-Israel wing of the Jewish community, school prayer is the juncture where those interests diverge. Jewish voters are grateful for an evangelical candidate's strong support for Israel - as long as they don't feel like the candidate wants to convert them. 
Jewish voters also tend to be social liberals when it comes to gay rights. Hitting a similarly gay-unfriendly note yesterday, Perry condemned President Obama for linking foreign aid to gay rights, calling the measure an "endorsement of those lifestyles.'' 
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