In December 2011, Perry ran a now infamous anti-gay campaign ad, where he appeared dressed in the same coat Heath Ledger wore in "Brokeback Mountain" to warn Americans of the homosexual threat to national security.
"If you think about gays as much as I do, you know they're bringing America to its knees," Perry told the crowd. "Well, I'm a military man. I spent a lot of years flying planes over terrorist countries like Turkey. But you can be a great Texan and a great leader without service. Look at George Bush. What's important is remembering the Alamo. And cowboys. That's why I like 'Brokeback Mountain.' I think it sets the tone of this campaign. It's about strong men -- frontier warriors -- who understand the importance of the bond only real men can share. That's what the troops are about. But when you start introducing a bunch of godless sodomites into the ranks, you're gonna punch the donkey, as we say back home. Well, like John Twist tells Ennis Del Mar in that fine, manly picture, 'we're gonna lick this damn ranch into shape.'"
After a smattering of confused and tentative applause, Perry proposed a five-year income tax exemption for disabled service men and women.
"I want to offer up for this country to consider a wounded-warrior tax exemption," Perry said. "It's not like it ain't never been done before. Why, I recall a few years ago when we sent them roughneck oil drillers into space to destroy an asteroid threatening Earth. The government agreed to waive all their taxes forever...for their families too. I'm only asking for a couple of years. Our troops are making the same sacrifices as those space guys. They deserve our appreciation."
Despite his efforts, Perry still faced tough questions and harsh criticisms over his immigration policies, which many perceived as overtly liberal. One member of the audience told Perry: "You might remember the Alamo where you're from, but I reckon you'd ask the government to give amnesty to all them Mexican anchor babies sticking around after the war. Seems to me that's your take on illegals."
Perry shrugged off the attack, smiled and said: "Folks in South Carolina shoot straight and don't mince words. That's what I just adore about you. We got the same core values and the same goals for a stronger, tougher America. That's why I'm here before you, exposing myself. I want to seduce you, South Carolina, and to get our warriors to stuff my ballot in their boxes. Heck, you could call my lust for men in uniform and South Carolina a downright addiction."
After another round of uncomfortable applause, Perry laughed and said, "Oh, South Carolina. I wish I knew how to quit you."
(c) 2011. See disclaimers.