Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry put aside his job creation stump speech and talked instead about his personal evangelical faith, his own academic failings, and his belief that God “doesn’t require perfect people.”
The Texas governor told a receptive audience of about 13,000 at the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., Wednesday that he went through a long period when he really didn’t know what to do with his life. After flunking organic chemistry at Texas A&M, his dream of becoming a veterinarian was over. After a stint in the Air Force, he had no idea what to do next.
“I wasn't one of those people who knew at the age of 12 that he wanted to be a doctor or lawyer or for that matter, a governor or a president," Perry said.
"I spent many a night pondering my purpose, talking to God and wondering what to do with this one life among the billions that were on the planet . . . My faith journey is not the story of someone who turned to God because I wanted to. It is because I had nowhere else to turn," he said.
"America is going to be guided by some set of values. The question is, whose values?” he said.
Perry did not mention President Barack Obama or his rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, but instead invoked biblical figures Moses and David.
“God uses broken people to reach a broken world. The mistakes of yesterday say nothing about the possibilities of tomorrow,” Perry said.
“He who knows the number of drops in the ocean, he counts the sands in the desert, he knows you by name . . . He doesn’t require perfect people to execute his perfect plan,” the Texas governor said.
Richard Land, a longtime leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, told The Washington Post that Perry was striking the right note to appeal to evangelical voters.
“Rick Perry’s a more overt, less subtle guy than George W. Bush, and he is going to be more overt in his policy statements and his statements about his faith,” Land said. “He talks about his faith in terms that evangelicals will find completely identifiable.”
Perry’s message of faith certainly seemed to resonate with his audience at Liberty University.
“I was impressed that he didn’t talk about his campaign,” Victoria Bell, a 19-year-old sophomore at Washington and Lee University and the chairman of Virginia Students for Rick Perry, told the Houston Chronicle.
Liberty senior Jordan Wilson, 21, told the Chronicle he liked that Perry linked his life story with his religion. “It was really his faith that gave him the direction he has today.”
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