10/13/2011 04:06 pm ET | Updated Dec 13, 2011

Anita Perry, Rick Perry's Wife, Says GOP Candidates, Media Have 'Brutalized' 2012 Campaign

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Anita Perry, the wife of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, reflected on her husband's presidential campaign Thursday in South Carolina, saying the media and his political opponents have "brutalized" his campaign.

"It’s been a rough month. We have been brutalized and beaten up and chewed up in the press to where I need this today," she said at North Greenville University, a Baptist university near Greenville, S.C. "We are being brutalized by our opponents, and our own party. So much of that is, I think they look at him, because of his faith. He is the only true conservative -- well, there are some true conservatives. And they’re there for good reasons. And they may feel like God called them too. But I truly feel like we are here for that purpose."

Perry's spokesman said earlier this year that Perry "never talks about his faith," but the presidential candidate has spoken about the subject recently. He has faced questions in recent days over Rev. Robert Jeffress, the pastor who endorsed and introduced him at last Friday's Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C.. Jeffress, a Dallas pastor, has repeatedly called Mormonism a "cult." Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is Mormon, has called on Perry to repudiate the pastor. The Perry campaign has said that Perry does not think Mormonism is a cult but will not repudiate Jeffress.

Anita Perry appeared emotional at times during her speech on Thursday. She teared up while recalling how her grandfather, a deacon, was never prouder of her than when she received a pin for perfect attendance at Sunday school.

She compared her husband's decision to run to seeing a "burning bush," referencing to the Old Testament story of Moses seeing a sign from God. "He felt like he needed to see the burning bush," she said. "I said, good, let me tell you something: 'You may not be seeing that burning bush but there are people seeing that burning bush for you.'"

"He prayed about it, he really prayed about it. He threw that fleece out twice to make sure it came back wet," she said, referencing a Biblical story where Gideon left out a fleece overnight to look for a sign from God if it came back wet.

"Last week, someone came up to Rick and handed him a scripture," she said. "He said, 'Rick, I want to tell you: God is testing you right now. God is testing you because he wants you to know that when you're in the White House how you got there.'"

Ms. Perry is campaigning around South Carolina. "When I hear 9-9-9, I want to call 9-1-1," she said to a group of women in a Spartanburg restaurant Thursday. "We were ahead in the polls four weeks ago, three weeks ago," she said. Perry has been falling in the polls since he entered the race in mid-August. "and it’s part of the process and, like I said, we’re fighters, and we’re on the way back."