WASHINGTON — The controversial anti-gay television ad that began airing in Iowa Wednesday from the campaign of Texas Governor Rick Perry — in which Perry takes direct aim criticizing the Obama administration’s repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — has sharply divided his advisers, and caused in fighting between conservative gay GOP political groups.
The ad began airing a day after the Texas governor attacked the Administration over the President’s directive to ensure LGBTQ equality rights globally by using foreign aid as an incentive.
In the ad, Perry questions why gay and lesbian service members can now openly serve in the armed forces while American children “can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”
“You don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know that there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school,” Perry said.
One GOP political operative acknowledged that the ad was meant to serve as a rallying point for influential evangelical voters.
GOP operative and political strategist Nelson Warfield, who was responsible for the ad’s creation, told The Huffington Post Thursday that Perry’s Chief pollster, Tony Fabrizio, called it “nuts.”
Warfield also told the HuffPo that the ad was created over Fabrizio’s objections.
The controversy didn’t stop there as today saw a confrontational series of tweets from GOP gay group GOProud’s board chairman Christopher Barron and co-founder and executive director Jimmy LaSalvia, blasting Fabrizio — utilizing a gay slur in a demeaning way in another tweet — and effectively outing Fabrizio as a gay man.
Washington political journalist and pundit Chris Geidner asked Barron about the tweets, and received this response:
“Perry’s pollster and strategist Tony Fabrizio has lined his pockets with gay money (from folks like [The] Gill [Foundation]) for years and now he sits back and watches as Perry unfolds a designed strategy to demonize gay people to score political points.”
Barron added, “Totally disgusting and an example of Washington political whores at their worst.”
Asked about questions of whether LaSalvia’s tweets were outing Fabrizio, Barron replied that he “didn’t think that there was any question about Tony Fabrizio’s sexual orientation. Obviously there are questions, so those questions should be directed to Tony.”
The conservative Log Cabin Republicans group, while expressing dismay at Perry’s ad and the Texas Governor’s stance, said, “It seems Governor Perry wants to be theocrat in chief, not commander in chief.” R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said his group was “less than thrilled” with GOProud’s actions.
“GOProud has used Twitter to out someone with whom they disagree,” said Log Cabin Republican Washington Chapter head Robert Turner.
“It is possible to disagree vigorously but respectfully with other people,” said Turner. “GOProud has disgraced itself in attacking Mr. Fabrizio. Log Cabin Republicans are against outing, especially for staffers, who have limited if any control over the politicians they work for.”
LaSalvia disagreed — “Perry said in the ad that the service of tens of thousands of patriotic gay Americans is what’s wrong in this country. That is an outrageous and un-American statement. If he [Fabrizio] thought that the ad was repugnant and it aired over his objections, he should have quit the campaign in protest.”
Ray Sullivan, spokesman for the Perry campaign, called the internal dissension and external criticism over the ad “irrelevant.”