WASHINGTON -- Speaking to an annual gathering of religious conservatives in Washington D.C., Texas Gov. Rick Perry again worked to hone his message on immigration by pushing aggressive measures to address border security and the drug war in Mexico.
"There is no security without border security," Perry told an audience of activists at the Values Voters Summit. "And make no mistake about it. What we are seeing south of our border is nothing short of war being waged by these narco-terrorists. They represent a clear and present danger to our country."
Echoing a sentiment he voiced in New Hampshire last weekend, he added, "We shouldn't take any options off the table, including security operations in cooperation with the Mexican government as we did with Columbia."
Perry's remarks at the GOP confab also included a heavy emphasis on his pro-life record, including a hinted tweak at his main rival, Mitt Romney, who spoke in support of abortion rights during his 1994 Senate run in Massachusetts.
"For some candidates pro-life is an election year slogan to follow the prevailing political winds," Perry said. "For me it's about the absolute principle that every human being in entitled to life."
Before he took the stage, Perry received the endorsement of Southern Baptist Convention Leader Robert Jeffress, who contrasted Perry with Romney – who is Mormon – on religious grounds. "Do we want a candidate who is a good, moral person, or one who is a born again follower of our Lord Jesus Christ?" he asked.
Jeffress told reporters after the event that Romney's faith is an issue for some GOP voters who are part of the born-again community.
"I think for a lot of evangelical Christians that is a huge issue, even if it's unspoken," Jeffress said of Romney's Mormon faith.