Perry Woos the Right With State Address

Given that Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison seems intent on challenging Republican Governor Rick Perry next year, it looks like Perry is getting a head start on sewing up right-wing support as he attempts to hold her off:

Gov. Rick Perry delivered his state of the state address to a joint session of the Legislature as if it were a campaign speech.

[W]ith the Republican governor planning to run for re-election next year — and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison preparing to challenge him — there was plenty to energize a conservative, red-meat political base Perry is counting on.

“As we consider the growing threats to our nation’s unborn, I believe it’s time to add another layer of protection for the most vulnerable Texans,” he said.

Perry said pregnant women should be required to see an ultrasound before being allowed to get an abortion. And he advocated adult stem cell research — not embryonic stem cells, a flash point for anti-abortion advocates whom the governor invited as Capitol guests.

“I was thrilled to have him discuss that,” said Joe Pojman of Texas Alliance for Life.

Hutchison supports abortion rights, although with restrictions. Perry’s political team plans to use the issue against her in the GOP primary, where social conservatives will make up about a quarter of the vote.

For those keeping score, Perry spent more time on abortion (seven sentences) than on college tuition (one sentence) or reducing insurance rates and expanding children’s health coverage (zero and zero) … Tuesday’s speech was a triumph for social conservatives — especially on abortion and Perry’s support of another issue popular with the conservative base — requiring voters to show a photo ID.

“All this stuff, the base really has a passion for,” said Kelly Shackelford of Plano-based Liberty Legal Institute.

Interestingly, Rick Scarborough, who has already made his opposition to Hutchison’s intended run well known, was also in attendance and apparently has gotten over his “grave disappointment” in Perry due to the Governor’s endorsement of Rudy Giuliani during the GOP primaries:

The governor stood in front of the chamber, the San Jacinto flag behind him. The Rev. Rick Scarborough, an influential East Texas evangelist and Perry guest, applauded from his seat in the back.

Scarborough and Perry have not always seen eye to eye. There was, for example, the governor’s unfortunate support of anti-gun, pro-abortion rights candidate Rudy Giuliani in last year’s presidential race.

“I’ve talked with him about that,” Scarborough said darkly, as if alluding a prodigal son’s wayward years.