Former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is urging Texas Republican women to support Gov. Rick Perry over U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the 2010 GOP primary for governor.
The Alaska governor said in a letter to GOP women that that she admires Perry's opposition to federal economic bailouts and his support for stimulating the economy with tax cuts and disciplined spending.
"Rick Perry is true to conservative principles even when others think the party needs to go a different direction. I like that about him: he doesn't care which way the wind blows, he acts on his beliefs. That's why I am supporting Governor Rick Perry for re-election," Palin wrote.
Palin wrote that Perry "walks the walk of a true conservative. And he sticks to his guns -- and you know how I feel about guns!"
Hutchison's campaign spokesman, Todd Olsen, said the letter reads like something the Perry campaign, not Palin, wrote.
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"I don't know that Governor Palin would have said that about a governor who had, via executive action, required teenage sixth-grade girls without their parents' permission to be required to take an HPV vaccine," Olsen said, referring to Perry's executive order in 2007 that required shots against a virus that causes cervical cancer. The Legislature overrode his mandate.
Olsen said Palin would find wide support from Hutchison among GOP women. They "just think Kay Hutchison is a superstar and they are overwhelmingly endorsing Senator Hutchison."
"We look forward to Governor Palin's endorsement, after the primary if not sooner," Olsen said.
Whoever wins the spring 2010 primary is expected to be a heavy favorite for the general election. No well-known Democrat has emerged yet in the governor's race.
Hutchison, a moderate Republican who voted for the first bailout package, has been meeting with campaign organizers, raising money and traveling the state to highlight her differences with Perry. She has said she will wait until the summer to formally announce her candidacy.
Perry is trying to appeal to the Republican Party's social conservative base that reliably turns out for primary elections and has given him its backing in the past.
Palin's letter boasted of job creation in Texas during Perry's tenure. She praised his support for more domestic oil drilling and development of renewable energy resources, "so America is not held hostage by Middle East ayatollahs and foreign dictators."
And, Palin wrote, Perry believes in protecting unborn human life.
"Rick Perry believes in protecting the most vulnerable in society, and who is more vulnerable than an unborn child? Our value as human beings in the eyes of Our Creator is not diminished by any circumstance," she wrote.
Abortion is expected to be a major campaign issue in the GOP primary between Perry and Hutchison. Perry has said he opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger. Hutchison favors abortion rights, but says she wants to see fewer of them.