OSCEOLA, Iowa – Rick Perry, in the midst of a furious late-stage effort to finish strongly in next week’s GOP Iowa caucuses, said at a town-hall-style campaign event that his views on abortion have shifted and that he no longer believes the procedure is acceptable in any circumstances.
Assuredly, the Texas governor has never been a moderate on the issue. But until recently, he had said an abortion might be justifiable in cases of rape or incest or if the mother’s life was in danger.
Tuesday, at the last leg of a four-stop bus trip across southwestern Iowa, Perry was asked a question by a local pastor about his abortion views, noting that the candidate had recently signed a pledge to oppose abortion in every situation and asking whether Perry had changed his mind.
Perry replied that he had. “You’re seeing a transformation,” he said. Recently watching an anti-abortion film had persuaded him to alter his view, he said.
The transformation comes at an opportune time. With a week to go until the Jan. 3 caucuses, Perry is trying to court the social conservatives here who have yet to coalesce around a single candidate as they did for Mike Huckabee four years ago. And Perry has watched as Rick Santorum, an unyielding opponent of abortion rights, has picked up endorsements in the last week from key evangelical leaders.
But the pastor who asked Perry the question, Joshua Verwers, said he believed Perry was sincere. “It was the perfect answer,” said Verwers, who said he had been concerned that the Texas governor was attempting to pander to evangelical voters.
Perry watched the DVD “The Gift of Life” on his campaign bus last week, aides said. The film, which features Huckabee and profiles those who say they were nearly aborted by their mothers, was produced by David Bossie, the conservative activist behind the Citizens United challenge before the Supreme Court that changed the landscape of campaign finance law.