A Free-Thinking Republican Woman



Her moment arrived in December, when the candidate released the disastrous video ad, “Strong,” that proclaimed, “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 schools." Potts was asked to
spend time with Anita Perry during the Texas first lady’s stop at a
college, and as they chatted for 10 minutes, the campaign chairwoman
mentioned the commercial.

“I said, ‘I think the campaign’s been
hurt some by the ad that came out,’” recalls Potts. “‘I was extremely
uncomfortable with it. I understand the message that we’re trying to put
out, that everybody ought to have freedom, but that’s not the way it
came out. It came out as an antigay message, and a lot of people just
assumed that you hated gay people.’”

Mrs. Perry insisted that was not
the case, and she told Potts about the friendships she and the governor
have with gay people. She talked about meeting Suze Orman and her
partner at the Texas Conference for Women, an event sponsored by the
first lady where the finance expert spoke.

Potts never discussed the issue with Governor Perry, but she said that she believes the response of his wife.

can usually tell if somebody’s just giving you a line,” she said. “She
was very sincere. They may quote some of the Republican Party line, but
it’s kind of mixed signals.”

Potts thinks that Perry received
“poor counsel” on the commercial, and she continues to feel he would
have been the best candidate among the Republican field on LGBT issues.

think the fact that you could have a conversation with him and maybe
sway him with it,” she said. “I think he would be open minded. I think
he could change.”

When Perry left the race following a weak
showing in Iowa, Potts failed to develop a similar affinity for any of
the remaining candidates. She worked for Mitt Romney in 2008 but said
she "caught him in too many lies" to continue with the campaign. The
ascent of Rick Santorum, who suspended his bid on Tuesday,
"shocked" her, given that she found the former Pennsylvania senator’s
inclination to judge people and set strict limits on contraception

“Santorum is such a whiner,” she said. “He’s just way out there.”

said that her dissatisfaction with the Republican presidential field
would “probably” lead her to consider voting for President Barack Obama.

“He’s looking better than any of them,” she said. “I don’t see a
candidate that can beat him right now. I would have to consider it.”

outspokenness and frustration bring to mind other Republican women who
recently announced they would leave politics over disgust with polarized
dialogue and extreme ideologies. The fed-up voices include Senator
Olympia Snowe of Maine, a proponent of “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal,
and New York Assemblymember Teresa Sayward, an early backer of the
marriage equality bill in her state legislature.

“They may just be tired,” said Potts. “It’s a hard fight. I think we can make a difference.”

underscores her optimism, particularly with regard to equality, where
recent polls show that more women than men support same-sex marriage,
sometimes by as much as 10 percentage points.

“[That’s] probably
just because of relationships,” said Potts. “With me, it was with my
son. It got down to, ‘What’s really important?’ It gets down to a
personal issue a lot faster. For women, it becomes a personal issue.”

for her own political career, Potts said that she holds ambitions to
run for office one day. Some of her fellow Iowa Republicans would oppose the prospect, but she refuses to be silenced.

“I’m active in the party and they wish I’d shut up, but I’m not going away,” she said.

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