Rick Perry
Ed Andrieski  /  AP
Texas Gov. Rick Perry addresses the Western Conservative Summit in Denver on Friday.
updated 7/30/2011 12:27:04 PM ET 2011-07-30T16:27:04

Potential Republican presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry of Texas repeated his personal opposition to gay marriage in a speech to conservatives in Denver Friday.

But Perry didn't backtrack on his statement last week in Aspen that New York's recent decision to allow gay marriage is "their business." That's despite a direct attack earlier in the evening from a rival GOP presidential hopeful, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who took Perry to task for the comment.

"There are some in our party who say, 'Well, if someone in New York wants to have gay marriage, that's fine with me.' ... States do not have the right to destroy the American family," Santorum said to applause from many of the 1,000 conservatives gathered at the Western Conservative Summit.

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Perry, who spoke after Santorum, simply told the crowd that the traditional definition of marriage "suits Texas and this governor just fine."

He repeated his advocacy for states' rights. "Washington needs a refresher course on the 10th Amendment," Perry said.

Last week Perry told a Republican crowd gathered for as fundraiser for the Republican Governor's Association that he was an "unapologetic social conservative" but didn't mind the New York decision.

"That's New York, and that's their business, and that's fine with me," he said.

On Friday, Perry spent more time talking about the debt ceiling debate going on in Congress, blasting Congress for the showdown without naming names.

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"They're so addicted to the spending, they spend their time debating raising the debt ceiling instead of making cuts," Perry said. He also blasted the Obama administration, saying they have a "mix of arrogance and audacity" that threatens the nation.

Perry accused the president of resenting Texas' best-in-the-nation jobs numbers.

"I think it causes them great consternation that we're being as successful as we are," he said.

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Perry has not declared his candidacy but is widely expected to join the presidential race.

The event raised money for a right-leaning think-tank in suburban Denver, the Centennial Institute. Attendees paid between $80 and $250 a plate for the dinner, part of an annual weekend of conservative speeches. A third possible Republican presidential candidate, Georgia businessman Herman Cain, planned to address the summit Sunday.

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Video: Gov. Perry’s 180 on gay marriage

  1. Transcript of: Gov. Perry’s 180 on gay marriage

    SMERCONISH: Welcome back to HARDBALL . Time now for the "Sideshow." First up, Governor Rick Perry shocked many of us last week voicing support for New York 's right to pass a law allowing gay marriage . Let's listen.

    GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS : That's New York and that's their business, and that's fine with me! That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment , stay out of their business if you live in some other state , or particularly if you're the federal government!

    SMERCONISH: No surprise that didn't sit well with Perry 's supporters. So how about a clarification?

    GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS : It's a small group of activist judges, and frankly, a small handful, if you will, of states and these liberal special interest groups that are intent on a redefinition, if you will, of marriage on the nation, for all of us. To not pass the federal marriage amendment would impinge on Texas , and other states right, not to the have marriage forced upon them by these activist judges and these special interest groups .

    SMERCONISH: Sounds like more of a 180 to me. State rights of fundamental to the integrity of the United States , unless, of course, Texas doesn't approve. Up next, yesterday, I spoke with the Senator Alan Simpson , who co- chaired last year's White House deficit reduction committee on my radio program. He was not pleased, to say the least , with the idea presented by some of his former colleagues that the urgency of raising the debt ceiling is majorly overblown. Listen to this.

    SMERCONISH: The final question, if I might, for Senator Simpson . What's the response to those out there saying -- Michele Bachmann included -- we don't want to raise the debt ceiling and that frankly this is a whole "chicken little" thing created. It's really not going to be as bad as they say it's going to be?

    FORMER SEN. ALAN SIMPSON (R): Well, it will be a different definition of chicken but the last word won't be little.

    SMERCONISH: Subtle? No, it's pretty clear what he was getting at. Next up, looks like President Obama has dual reasons for speaking about fuel-efficient vehicles in Washington this morning. He's already thinking ahead to his daughter getting behind the wheel. Let's listen.

    BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As some of you may know, it's only a matter of time until Malia gets her learner's permit. So, I'm hoping to see one of those models that gets a top speed of 15 miles an hour. The ejector seat any time boys are in the car. So, hopefully, you guys have some of those in the pipeline.


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