Rick Perry and the Gays, Part II (Full Sequence)

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 8 2011 5:20 PM

Rick Perry and the Gays, Part II (Full Sequence)

In the words of Ron Burgundy: "Wow. That got out of hand fast." Michelangelo Signorile returns to the outing beat, and recaps a surprise twist to the Perry "strong" ad fallout: How GOProud's Chris Barron and Jimmy LaSalvia took to Twitter to declare that the pollster who objected to the ad was gay. The way LaSalvia said it: "I've just about had it with faggots who line their pockets with checks from homophobes while throwing the rest of us under the bus." He has not deleted the tweet in question, and in a short phone call he said he stood by it.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

"I did not know that Tony Fabrizio's sexual orientation was in question," said LaSalvia. "Apparently it is. I have nothing more to say about it."

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I'm no fan of "outing." LaSaliva is saying that he assumed the pollster was already out; he did not intend to out him. There are different ways to interpret "out," I guess, but Fabrizio is a divorced dad, and yes, he was married to a woman. If we can leave this rumor out of the story -- hey, we probably can't -- LaSalvia says that he and Barron went off on the Perry campaign because anti-gay sentiment has become "the centerpiece strategy of the campaign."

"You can even look at the news release they issued about the treatment of gay people across the world," he said. (He was referring to a statement Perry put out on December 6: "Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money.") So: "For him to say what's wrong with this country is gay people signing up to serve it? That's appalling, appalling. This is an appeal to the smallest minority of voters, which I suppose you have to do when you're desperate."

UPDATE: GOProud release a statement on the affair.

From the time this organization was founded we have been clear in our opposition to outing.  We would never intentionally out anyone.  However, in the case of Tony Fabrizio, top pollster and chief strategist for the Presidential campaign of Texas Governor Rick Perry, we did not believe there was any question about his sexual orientation – nor did the reporters who called us to ask about his involvement in Perry’s anti-gay campaign strategy.  Questions about an individual’s sexual orientation should obviously be answered by that individual.
Let us be crystal clear, however, Tony Fabrizio is not the victim here.  Tony Fabrizio has lined his pockets for years with money from gay groups and is now one of the chief architects of a campaign strategy – not just an isolated television ad - intended to demonize gay people in order to score political points.  Fabrizio claims he opposed the latest anti-gay Perry television ad.  If Fabrizio really does oppose the ad and the broader strategy then the honorable and decent thing to do would be to resign from the campaign.  Tony Fabrizio is no junior staffer he is one of the top campaign pollsters and strategists in the country.
It is obvious that the campaign of Rick Perry is desperate, and in a desperate last ditch effort to become relevant in the GOP Presidential race he and his campaign have decided to employ a strategy that plays to the cheap seats and appeals to the worst in people.  Rick Perry should be embarrassed and the people around him who are the architects of this strategy, particularly people like Tony Fabrizio, should be ashamed.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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