DENVER — Potential Republican presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry of Texas repeated his personal opposition to gay marriage in a speech to conservatives in Denver Friday.
But Perry didn't backtrack on his statement last week in Aspen that New York's recent decision to allow gay marriage is "their business." That's despite a direct attack earlier in the evening from a rival GOP presidential hopeful, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who took Perry to task for the comment.
"There are some in our party who say, 'Well, if someone in New York wants to have gay marriage, that's fine with me.' ... States do not have the right to destroy the American family," Santorum said to applause from many of the 1,000 conservatives gathered at the Western Conservative Summit.
Perry, who spoke after Santorum, simply told the crowd that the traditional definition of marriage "suits Texas and this governor just fine."
He repeated his advocacy for states' rights. "Washington needs a refresher course on the 10th Amendment," Perry said.
Last week Perry told a Republican crowd gathered for as fundraiser for the Republican Governor's Association that he was an "unapologetic social conservative" but didn't mind the New York decision.
"That's New York, and that's their business, and that's fine with me," he said.
On Friday, Perry spent more time talking about the debt ceiling debate going on in Congress, blasting Congress for the showdown without naming names.
"They're so addicted to the spending, they spend their time debating raising the debt ceiling instead of making cuts," Perry said. He also blasted the Obama administration, saying they have a "mix of arrogance and audacity" that threatens the nation.
Perry accused the president of resenting Texas' best-in-the-nation jobs numbers.
"I think it causes them great consternation that we're being as successful as we are," he said.
Perry has not declared his candidacy but is widely expected to join the presidential race.
The event raised money for a right-leaning think-tank in suburban Denver, the Centennial Institute. Attendees paid between $80 and $250 a plate for the dinner, part of an annual weekend of conservative speeches. A third possible Republican presidential candidate, Georgia businessman Herman Cain, planned to address the summit Sunday.
Follow Kristen Wyatt at http://www.twitter.com/APkristenwyatt