ThinkProgress filed this report from the Western Republican Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, NV.
Earlier this month, New Hampshire State Rep. Al Baldasaro (R) embroiled himself in controversy when he told ThinkProgress he thought it was “great” that a Republican debate audience booed an active-duty soldier because he is gay. Baldasaro was roundly criticized by New Hampshire newspapers and numerous groups have called on Baldasaro, a prominent endorser of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) presidential campaign, to resign.
Though Baldasaro has refused to back down, Perry’s campaign, which touted Baldasaro’s endorsement in a September 21 press release, has remained noticeably silent on the matter.
Last night, ThinkProgress asked Perry’s communications director Ray Sullivan whether the campaign continued to stand by Baldasaro’s endorsement following the controversy. Sullivan, whose reaction to the question seemed to indicate that the campaign had not given the matter any consideration, falsely responded that the campaign had already “dealt with that issue.” When we asked what they had done, a flummoxed Sullivan said simply that “those folks need to answer for themselves.”
KEYES: Does the campaign have any plans to disavow the endorsement of New Hampshire State Rep. Al Baldasaro after he said that the booing of a soldier in a previous debate was “great”?
SULLIVAN: We’ve dealt with that issue. The governor has said time and again that he…
KEYES: What was the dealing with that issue? I must have missed it.
SULLIVAN: Those folks need to answer for themselves.
For the record, Perry’s campaign has not addressed the Baldasaro matter, despite Sullivan’s claim to the contrary. Hundreds have signed a petition calling on Baldasaro to resign.
There is certainly precedent for campaigns being forced to disavow controversial endorsements. In 2008, then-GOP presidential nominee John McCain disowned the endorsement of John Hagee, a pastor best known for calling Catholicism a “cult” and “the great whore”.
For now, Perry’s campaign is continuing to stand by controversial statements coming from their endorsers, from Baldasaro to Pastor Robert Jeffress, who recently called Mormonism a “cult”.