Back in June when Gov. Rick Perry announced that he was hosting his massive “The Response” prayer rally and inviting all of the nation’s governors to join him, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback immediately announced that he would attend. But now, with the event only three days away, it appears as if Brownback might be having second thoughts and will no longer confirm him attendance.
The event is being held at Reliant Stadium, home of the NFL’s Houston Texans, which can seat 86,000 people, so obviously organizers had pretty grand plans for this event. A spokesperson for the stadium said they were expecting 30,000-35,0000 to attend … but with only a few days to go, the number of confirmed attendees stands at about one-tenth of the stadium’s capacity:
Openly and deeply religious, Texas Gov. Rick Perry organized what seemed like a slam-dunk event for a politician in a state where religion and politics walk hand in hand: He would fill Houston’s Reliant Stadium with fellow believers in a seven-hour session of Christian atonement by some of the nation’s most conservative preachers, exhorting believers to pray about the nation’s moral decline.
Since he set up the event scheduled for Saturday, however, Perry has become the most talked-about almost-candidate in the 2012 Republican presidential field. But with only 8,000 RSVPs for a stadium that seats 71,500 people, virtually no politicians planning to attend, and a slate of organizers who hold out-of-mainstream views on religious freedom, gay rights and even Adolf Hitler, the event has become a potentially risky gamble if Perry is serious about running for the White House.
By contrast, when Lou Engle organized his “The Call” prayer rally on the National Mall in 2000, it drew an estimated 400,000 people.