A recently hired adviser to former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R-TX) campaign-in-waiting made waves in the 2012 presidential race when he suggested it isn’t God’s will to have a female president.
On Wednesday, Perry’s political action committee, RickPAC, announced that Jamie Johnson had joined as senior director. According to The Des Moines Register, Johnson will be working for RickPAC in Iowa and other early Republican primary states.
Johnson, an ordained minister, is a former radio broadcaster who previously served as the director of outreach for Iowa Right to Life and the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition.
In 2012, he served as Iowa coalitions director for former Sen. Rick Santorum’s (R-PA) presidential campaign. During that campaign cycle, The Des Moines Register reported an email Johnson sent to a friend in which he said that children’s lives would be in danger if the country elected a female president.
“The question then comes, ‘Is it God’s highest desire, that is, his biblically expressed will,…to have a woman rule the institutions of the family, the church, and the state?” Johnson wrote in the email.
Johnson told the Register that the email, which was written in 2011 but resurfaced in January 2012, was meant to be a private message, sent from his personal email account.
According to NBC, when the email was passed to a member of then-Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) presidential campaign, her national faith outreach director accused Santorum of deploying a “sexist strategy” to beat Bachmann in the Iowa caucuses.
“There is reason to believe that Senator Santorum’s campaign deployed a sexist strategy against Michele Bachmann among IA Evangelical pastors, value-voters, and home school parents,” Peter Waldron, Bachmann ‘s former Faith Outreach Director Waldron wrote in an email to Buzzfeed. “I don’t know if Mr. Johnson considered the consequences of his statements or was actually saying that the 100+ female members of Congress, sitting Supreme Court justices, governors, state, municipal and local elected female officials resign!! However, it does reveal a strong conviction held by key IA campaign adviser to the Senator.”
Johnson, in an interview with NBC News, said the criticism he received was “blown way out of proportion” and didn’t represent the Santorum campaign.
“I was sharing my personal reflections with a friend through my private email account —not the campaign account,” Johnson said according to NBC. “They were reflections on over 25 years of formal, theological study” that are based in “classical Christian doctrine.”
TPM reached out to Johnson and RickPAC for comment. In response, RickPAC spokeswoman Lucy Nashed wrote in an email to TPM that “Americans are looking for an optimistic vision for the future and will judge candidates based on their records, not their genders.”
UPDATE: March 19, 2015, 3:33 PM
In an interview with The Guardian published after TPM’s report, Johnson said that he was actually comfortable with having women in office.
“Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher have proven for a long time now that women can do anything that men can do and do it well,” Johnson said.