MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - Texas Gov. Rick Perry spoke like a preacher from his pulpit to an evangelical crowd today, telling them that if they support his presidential campaign, together they can bring about the world's "next great awakening."
"It is time for people of faith to take this country back. The greatness of America stems from the humble act of mortal men recognizing a higher power, proclaiming our rights that emanate from that great creator and not from government," Perry told the crowd at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Debate Kickoff.
"Don't let the voices of secularism in government silence your voices. Together we can build more than just a winning campaign. We can bring about the next great awakening in this world, and we can make America more than just the freest and the most prosperous nation on the earth, but as Ronald Reagan said, we can again make it that shining city on the hill."
Perry, who lost the backing of a group of religious leaders and social conservatives to Rick Santorum over the weekend, warned of the decline in spirituality due to an uptick in "political correctness" in this country.
"When school children are prohibited from wishing our troops Merry Christmas by school leaders worried about lawsuits, America has lost its spiritual awakening. It has lost its spiritual moorings. It has lost its spiritual ways, and we need to stand up," he said. "Political correctness has got to stop in this country."
On his third event of the day, the most he's ever held before a debate, Perry let out a loud "woo" and "yeah" as he came onstage, then said: "Get the fire hose out because I'm going to put them on fire out there. You're going to have to wet down the whole crowd. God and country! God and country!"
Perry praised the concepts of the Founding Fathers, particularly the issue of states' rights, while railing against abortion and gay marriage and touting the initiatives he implemented as Texas governor to combat these two issues, drawing loud applause for defunding Planned Parenthood in his state.
Tailoring his signature closing line to the Christian conservative audience, Perry cited a Bible passage - Ecclesiastes 4:12 - to inspire voters to support his campaign, despite his low position in South Carolina polls.
"It said that one man standing alone can be defeated, but two men back-to-back can conquer. If you'll have my back this Saturday, I'll have your back in Washington, D.C. for the next four years," Perry said to a standing ovation.