Pendleton, South Carolina (CNN) - Rick Perry's wife Anita said Friday that she could sympathize with the plight of the unemployed because her son was forced to resign his job to take a more active role on his father's presidential campaign.
Anita Perry blamed the Obama administration for her son having to resign his position.
"My son had to resign his job because of federal regulations that Washington has put on us," Mrs. Perry said while campaigning for her husband in South Carolina, after a voter shared the story of losing his job.
"He resigned his job two weeks ago because he can't go out and campaign with his father because of SEC regulations," she continued, referring to the Securities and Exchange Commission. "He has a wife... he's trying to start a business. So I can empathize."
"My son lost his job because of this administration," she said a few minutes later.
According to press reports, the Perrys' son, Griffin, worked at Deutsche Bank.
It was unclear what SEC regulations Perry was referring to, but the commission adopted a new rule last year aimed at limiting political activity on the part of investment advisors.
Mrs. Perry was speaking at a meet and greet at Dyar's diner in Pendleton, in western South Carolina, on the same morning her husband delivered the first major economic address of his campaign.
Her comments about her son came in response to a question from 45-year-old voter who said he lost a job paying over $100,000 and who now makes $12 an hour as a handyman.
Asked after the event to elaborate on comments she made a day earlier about her husband being "brutalized" by fellow conservatives over his Christian faith, Mrs. Perry said she didn't have anything to add.
"It's been a rough month," Perry said in an emotional speech to voters on Thursday. The speech was recorded by NBC News. "We have been brutalized and beaten up and chewed up in the press to where I need this today.
The Texas governor has been sliding in national polls since mid-September, when he put in shaky performances at two GOP presidential debates and lost a closely watched straw poll in Florida that he was widely expected to win. Perry's appearance at Tuesday's GOP debate also garnered negative reviews.
The latest CNN Poll of Polls, released Thursday, shows 14% of Republican voters identifying Perry as their choice for nominee, behind former Godfathers' Pizza executive Herman Cain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Those numbers reflect a sharp fall since early September, when a CNN/ORC International poll showed 30% of Republican voters picking Perry.
On Thursday, Anita Perry pointed the finger at fellow Republicans, who she said took issue with the governor's strong conservative Christian stance.
"We are being brutalized by our opponents, and our own party," Perry said. "So much of that is, I think they look at him, because of his faith."
Perry's relationship with the influential evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress has come under scrutiny in the past week. Jeffress told reporters at the Values Voter Summit in Washington he believed Mormonism was a 'cult.'
Two men running for the GOP presidential nomination are Mormons, Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. Jeffress has endorsed Perry, and introduced him at the summit.
- CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.