By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com December 09 2011 8:02 PM ET
Whether GOProud should have reacted as it did to Rick Perry's antigay television commercial, by attacking pollster Tony Fabrizio and outing him to the media, is the kind of question that divides people passionately.
The Log Cabin Republicans condemned Perry's ad in a strongly worded statement and then condemned the likes of GOProud for blaming Fabrizio.
“Tony Fabrizio does not deserve the vicious assault on his character," said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin's president, in a statement. "By all accounts, Tony rightly objected to the ‘Strong’ ad as being counter-productive, ineffective, and offensive — in a word, ‘nuts.’"
Cooper is referring to a series of emails between top campaign staffers and reported on by The Huffington Post. In the back-and-forth, Fabrizio warns against running the ad and says it would be "nuts."
"Tony was against it from the get-go," GOP operative Nelson Warfield told The Huffington Post, while also claiming complete responsibility for the commercial, which suggests it's unfair to Christians that gays are allowed to serve openly in the military.
Cooper said the backlash Perry is getting for the ad has proved Fabrizio right in his prediction. Gallup has tracked support for repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" reaching as high as two thirds of Americans.
"As a skilled pollster and strategist, he knew Americans today have no desire to see their gay neighbors used as a campaign wedge issue," Cooper said. "The Perry campaign would have been well served to heed Fabrizio’s advice, and it is a shame that certain individuals within our community are trying to punish Tony for doing what he could to prevent this ad from airing."
On that point, Cooper is referring to statements from Jimmy LaSalvia and Chris Barron, the leaders of gay conservative group, GOProud. LaSalvia has said that if Fabrizio was so opposed to the ad, then he should have quit in protest.
"I've just about had it with faggots who line their pockets with checks from antigay homophobes while throwing the rest of us under the bus," he wrote on Twitter in reaction.
Today, LaSalvia underscored the importance of Fabrizio to the Perry campaign.
"Tony Fabrizio is not some low-level staffer on a campaign," he told The Advocate. "He is the pollster and senior strategist. He is crafting an overall campaign strategy that demonizes gay people."
GOProud issued a statement today that defends itself from criticism for attacking Fabrizio, who The Miami Herald reports also served as pollster to the Florida Red and Blue committee, which tried to stop passage of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in that state. Fabrizio reportedly has a condo in South Beach.
Read GOProud's complete explanation below:
“From the time this organization was founded we have been clear in our opposition to outing. We would never intentionally out anyone. However, in the case of Tony Fabrizio, top pollster and chief strategist for the Presidential campaign of Texas Governor Rick Perry, we did not believe there was any question about his sexual orientation – nor did the reporters who called us to ask about his involvement in Perry’s anti-gay campaign strategy. Questions about an individual’s sexual orientation should obviously be answered by that individual.
“Let us be crystal clear, however, Tony Fabrizio is not the victim here. Tony Fabrizio has lined his pockets for years with money from gay groups and is now one of the chief architects of a campaign strategy — not just an isolated television ad — intended to demonize gay people in order to score political points. Fabrizio claims he opposed the latest anti-gay Perry television ad. If Fabrizio really does oppose the ad and the broader strategy then the honorable and decent thing to do would be to resign from the campaign. Tony Fabrizio is no junior staffer he is one of the top campaign pollsters and strategists in the country.
“It is obvious that the campaign of Rick Perry is desperate, and in a desperate last ditch effort to become relevant in the GOP Presidential race he and his campaign have decided to employ a strategy that plays to the cheap seats and appeals to the worst in people. Rick Perry should be embarrassed and the people around him who are the architects of this strategy, particularly people like Tony Fabrizio, should be ashamed.”