Evangelicals Choose a Different Rick
A large group of evangelical leaders gathered on the Brenham ranch of former judge Paul Pressler over the weekend and delivered Rick Perry a resounding blow on his home turf by voting to endorse Rick Santorum.

The American Prospect‘s Patrick Caldwell noted that 85 of 114 votes were cast for Santorum, whose chances are viewed to be better than those of Perry’s. The evangelical “bigwigs” in attendance included Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, the American Family Association’s Donald Wildmon, and the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins.

Each major candidate except for Jon Huntsman had someone on hand to stump for him, the Texas Tribune’s Jay Root reported. “State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, was one of the Perry backers who spoke at the meeting. So did Texas pastor Rick Scarborough, one knowledgeable source said,” Root wrote.

The assembled leaders would still support Perry over Romney, however. “Based upon what participants said … if Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, or Rick Santorum would clear the nomination, there would be passionate support,” Perkins told reporters on a conference call. “Beyond that, I can’t necessarily say.”

When reporters on the trail asked Perry about the endorsement on Saturday, he walked away, Root reported.

In Which Perry Defends Corpse Desecration
On CNN’s State of the Union Sunday, Rick Perry ran to the defense of the Marines who allegedly urinated on Taliban corpses in a YouTube clip. “Obviously, eighteen, nineteen-year-old kids make stupid mistakes all too often, and that’s what’s occurred here,” he said, adding that he saw the Obama administration’s “disdain for the military” in their “over-the-top” rhetoric about the incident. (Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has called the servicemen’s apparent actions “utterly deplorable.”) “These kids made a mistake, there’s no doubt about it,” Perry told CNN’s Candy Crowley. “But to call it a criminal act, I think, is over the top.”

Critics were quick to slam Perry. “What would you call it, Gov. Perry? Desecration of enemy corpses is clearly forbidden by the Geneva Convention,” wrote Dan Turner at Los Angeles Times‘ Opinion L.A. blog:

[Perry] seems to think it would be a good idea for the president and his administration to shrug off breaches of the rules of military conduct, international law or common decency when they’re committed by active-duty soldiers. Perry’s approach . . . would invite international condemnation, promote retaliation on the battlefield, gift Islamic insurgents with a sterling recruitment tool and undermine relations with key allies such as the Afghan and Pakistani governments.

But despite criticism, Perry did not back away from his remarks and even used some of his precious airtime in Monday night’s GOP debate in South Carolina to reiterate his controversial stance on the Marine’s behavior, the Houston Chronicle‘s Peggy Fikac reported. “Let me tell you what’s utterly despicable: cutting Danny Pearl’s head off and showing the video of it. Hanging our contractors from bridges, that’s utterly despicable,” Perry said.

A Day on the Trail in South Carolina
The Washington Post‘s Stephanie McCrummen spent a gloomy Thursday on the trail with the governor in South Carolina. “After 153 days, millions of dollars, the swagger of first place and the steady, awkward decline into fifth, Rick Perry’s presidential bid came down to a lonely stroll Thursday along Main Street in the town of Walterboro,” she wrote.

McCrummen, author of the paper’s Niggerhead hunting camp scoop, captured Perry struggling through “a kind of political and personal netherworld—his poll numbers in the single digits, his confidence challenged, his campaign lingering in some strange place between the last throes of death and the dim possibility of revival.”

The day’s four events were sparsely attended, with only one drawing a crowd larger than fifty. Even Perry’s hair seemed lackluster. “His hair, famously brown-looking on TV, was in reality feathered with gray. His stature, famously rugged-looking on TV, seemed in person a bit less so,” McCrummen wrote.