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Rick Perry's Florida endorsement coup: John Stemberger

Florida evangelical leader John Stemberger is a step away from endorsing Rick Perry for president, a big coup for the Texas governor and a loss for fellow Republican Michele Bachmann. Stemberger's likely endorsement follows some top-level Perry staff hires (see below)*

"We really like Michele Bachmann She has stellar credentials when it comes to our issues. She is an amazing woman. Our primary drive is principle and the issues," Stemberger said. "But we also have to be realistic, pragmatically, and determine who’s viable."

Stemberger said that meant he and the Florida Family Policy Council, which has an email list of about 65,000 Florida evangelical voters, had two choices.

"This is a two man race between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. And there’s a growing consensus among evangelical leaders and, to some degree, among those in the tea party and pro-life Catholics that Rick Perry is the most trustworthy candidate on our issues," Stemberger said.

"There are too many trust issues with Mitt Romney," he continued. "The issue not that he is a Mormon. The issue is that he wasn’t Mormon enough. If he had been consistent with traditional Mormon values his whole career, that would make me feel a lot more comfortable about where he’s coming from. Perry is a lot more solid on our issues."

Romney's liability on social issues (Perry's asset) might be geographical. Romney was governor of liberal Massachusetts, where he also ran for U.S. Senate. So he couldn't be an arch-conservative. Perry was governor of Texas. So he basically had to be an arch-conservative.

"When it comes time to make those decisions, it shows how deep your convictions go. I know Perry didn’t have the opportunity to do that because he’s in a different environment," Stember said.

"Perry is not a perfect candidate. We only had one perfect candidate and we crucified him 2,000 years ago."

Stemberger said he'll officially make up his mind after talking to some of the evangelical leaders who were among the 300 in attendance earlier this summer at the Texas ranch of Jim Leininger (stories here and here). Stemberger was invited but couldn't go because he was in Orlando for a Florida Family Policy Council annual dinner, where the featured speaker was Bachmann.

*In addition to Randy Enwright, Jim Rimes and Rich Heffley, the Rick Perry campaign today announced today that Nick Hansen will be Florida state director, Bret Prater will serve as the Florida Political Director, and Anthony Bustamante will advise the Florida team’s grassroots efforts.

From a campaign release: “Florida is very important to me, and I am looking forward to bringing my pro-jobs conservative message to Florida and the Presidency 5 straw poll events,” said Gov. Perry. “I have also assembled a strong team of Florida Republican professionals to help carry my record and vision for job creation and fiscal conservatism to the voters of the Sunshine State.”
Nick Hansen has been involved in numerous successful elections, including municipal, legislative and presidential races. He has served as a campaign strategist for Congressman Gus Bilirakis, Jack Latvala for State Senate, Sandra Murman for Hillsborough Commissioner, Bill Foster for St. Pete Mayor, and Deveron Gibbons for St. Pete Mayor. Hansen was the Tampa Bay Regional Field Director for Mitt Romney for President in 2008. Most recently, Hansen acted as a strategist and legislative assistant to Representative Jeff Brandes.
Bret Prater organized grassroots in Miami during the Bush-Brogan 2002 gubernatorial campaign, served as a Regional Victory Director in the panhandle during the Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign, and has managed statewide projects for the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) for the past three election cycles. During the 2010 election cycle, Prater served as the RPOFs Political Director, where he oversaw the party’s Victory program, managed congressional affairs, and acted as a liaison to statewide campaigns. Most recently Prater was the Florida Political Director for Tim Pawlenty for President.
Anthony Bustamante served as Senator Marco Rubio’s Statewide Field Director in 2010. While in that role, he built up the grassroots organization in Florida by gathering support from local parties, the Tea Party, 9/12 groups, and many other conservative organizations across the state. Bustamante has also served as a Regional Victory Director and 72 Hour Director for the RPOF.


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George Fuller

If you support the Dream Act then Perry is your choice since he signed it into law years ago in TX......1.6 million illegal aliens and he won't support any immigration laws.......


To say that Rick Perry is more trust worthy than Mitt Romney is pure evangelical hog wash! Rick Perry has more baggage than Obama!! Whack-A-Perry has just begun and they've only scratched the surface on this sel-serving, self-righteous, extreme right-wing nut!!! Mitt Romney 2012!!!!


Empty barrels not only make the most noise, they also stick tpgether. Stemberger and Perry: a pair of know-nothings.


Elect anyone but Obummer! Pass it on!


Obama is far worse than Bush, more wars, more unemployment, more spending


Romney praisers are Democrat trolls.


John Stemberger is not an economist, and neither is Rick Perry. These people are NOT voices of reason. Both Bachmann and Perry are tragic candidates, BOTH not capable of running this country.


Democrats do "troll." But it has been my observation that they appear, and attack Romney (often silent on the other candidates under discussion), rather than support him. What does that make you think?

Walter Snyder

Those tricky anarchists AKA the Tea Party want us to believe that Rick Perry has already won this office. Sure he is lacking in qualification but do those Koch brothers care? No. No way. The Koch brothers want the USA on a plate.

Did you know:

The future politician did not distinguish himself much in the classroom. While he later became a student leader, he had to get out of academic probation to do so. He rarely earned anything above a C in his courses — earning a C in U.S. History, a D in Shakespeare, and a D in the principles of economics. Perry got a C in gym.

Perry also did poorly on classes within his animal science major. In fall semester 1970, he received a D in veterinary anatomy, a F in a second course on organic chemistry and a C in animal breeding. He did get an A in world military systems and “Improv. of Learning” — his only two As while at A&M.

“A&M wasn’t exactly Harvard on the Brazos River,” recalled a Perry classmate in an interview with The Huffington Post. “This was not the brightest guy around. We always kind of laughed. He was always kind of a joke.”


I for one welcome our willfully ignorant corporo-theocratic overlords.

John Republican since 1974

"Obama is far worse than Bush: more wars."

Which wars are those?

Eric Jacobson

If Stemberger is going to endorse any candidate, then he'd best be prepared to lose his tax-exempt status. Those are the rules: Once you go from the pulpit to politics, you're no longer considered worthy of tax-exempt status. You gotta pay up like everyone else.


"The issue not that he is a Mormon. The issue is that he wasn’t Mormon enough."

This clearly exposes Stemberger's priorities.


Not Mormon enough or Mormon enough should have no bearing on the issue. Economics is the issue.

Romney understands business enough to make $400 + million in 25 years. In those same 25 years, Perry has lived off the tax payer.

Romney turned around a state and the Olympics, and numerous companies. Perry has been a governor in a state with a weak governorship. He has demonstrated no ability to turn anything around.

What Stemberger wants is a theological twin. What the country needs is a very smart, leader.


You just gotta love the South. Yes, Romney made a ton of money, but was it in the way we dislike? Over payment for a job well done? CEO salaries are out of control. Perry, may not have been an A student, but I know of billionaires that didn't go past 6th grade. I don't care if the president is atheist . . as long as he or she can bring this country back to a reality of jobs, a climate of long term progress, not something that plans out for the next election, 2 years down the road. Long term, that means company's can plan, not just plan to lobby for the next session. We need politicians that care about our country, our people, not themselves and those who "special interest lobby".


Not because he's Mormon. Yeah, right...


Thinly veiled anti-Mormon bigotry on display in Florida. Perry mandated that 12 year old girls are forced to have a sex vaccine in Texas, sounds like Perrycare is much more atrocious than Romneycare, which was carried out with private insurance companies.

Anyone with a clue watching these debates can see that Perry can not beat Obama, he is GW Bush all over again. Romney is the guy for the GOP.


So now Stemberger claims to be enough of a scholar on Mormon church standards that he can judge Romney again them? Religious bigotry indeed…


I find it so wrong that a church leader "endorses" candidates and then uses his/her e-mail list to push for election of that candidate. Talk about an abuse of separation of church and state and the tax-exempt status.

Mormon leaders are not allowed to endorse any candidate and church property cannot be used for campaigning. It's neutral territory (even with the preponderance out West of conservative Mormons). They read a letter every election year from the pulpit sent from the Mormon leadership in Salt Lake forbidding electioneering by members or candidates.


Mitt Romney is a good father, a devoted husband and an honest good man. I have never heard of Mr. Stemberger before this, and his words make me wonder, why he feels it is his place to try and persuade anyone to vote against such a man as Mitt Romney. It sounds like Mr Stemberger has a little bit of the "Good Ole Boy" in him and takes himself a little to seriously.
Rick Perry cannot defeat Obama. His style, his past record which is just now being exposed, will not allow the Independents to vote for him. We must defeat Obama. Four more years of this man will ruin our country. Romney has the intellectual tools we need to turn this country around. This country is the biggest business on the planet earth, and we, more than ever before, need a businessman to run it. If we have proven anything during the past 3 years, it is that the last thing we need right now is another pandering Political robot so that Mr Stemberger can feel good about it.
The national polls released today clearly point out that Romney is the "ONLY" Republican candidate that can win enough conservative and independent votes to beat Obama. If we listen to people like Stemberger we will again nominate who Obama hopes we will. The last person Obama wants to run against and debate the economy with is Romney. Just think about it....and who is Obama trying to kill? Its not Perry. Mr. Stemberger is doing the enemies work.


Mitt Romney believes that he will become a literal God in the next life, and will be given his own kingdom/planet to lord over. Maybe he'll be satisfied with that once he loses this election.

Pastor Bryan Longworth

Since Herman Cain received more votes in the Florida Presidency 5 Straw Poll than Perry and Romney combined, I wonder whether Perry is still viewed as the only candidate who can beat Romney.


"Mitt Romney believes that he will become a literal God in the next life, and will be given his own kingdom/planet to lord over."

Is that any more ridiculous than believing that God came to earth in a virgin birth and died to save everyone who confesses his name and damns everyone who doesn't regardless of if they have heard of him or not.

Definition of a cult: Someone who believes something I don't like...

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