Posts Tagged ‘values voters’

“Mitt Romney is seizing the opportunity created by Dr. James Dobson’s threat of a third party candidacy. The Massachusetts pol is positioning himself as the GOP candidate of choice for religious conservatives,” writes the estimable Deal W. Hudson in an editorial for the Post Chronicle titled Has James Dobson Created An Opening For Mitt Romney?

How? In a Boston Globe story from October 5, Eric Fehrnstrom, a spokesman for the Romney campaign, said, “Dr. Dobson is keeping an open mind on Mitt Romney, and I think this is because they do share in common so many values.”In short, Romney wants to portray himself as the only major candidate with Dobson’s approval still in the running.

Romney also wants to portray himself as the emerging choice of the so-called “social right”; see: The Dawning Realization of the Social Right, a breathless and intemperate race42008.com Romney-fantasia authored by someone named Matt C.

Back to Hudson:

Dr. Dobson didn’t take the bait.

We reported on the same event and arrived at a similar conclusion: Romney courts Dobson, fails miserably to persuade

Back to Hudson:

The Boston Globe reporter, Michael Kranish, called Dobson to get a comment on the campaign statement, but he did not return the call.

No one can blame Romney for trying to fill in the vacuum created by Dobson’s negative comments on nearly all the GOP candidates. After all, Dobson has said nothing critical about Romney himself, only that Evangelicals would not be likely to vote for a Mormon.

We reported on that too: Dobson of Focus on the Family sells soul to Satan for a pittance; praises Romney

Back to Hudson:

“I don’t believe that conservative Christians in large numbers will vote for a Mormon, but that remains to be seen, I guess,” Dobson said on a national radio show October 2, 2006.

The signs are not good that Dobson will back Romney. Dobson’s attempt in Salt Lake City to rally other religious leaders to a third party cause came the day after Romney spoke to the same group.

If Dobson had been favorably impressed, he would not have carried through with his plan to lead his colleagues out of the GOP for the 2008 election.

By addressing Dobson publicly, the Romney campaign is taking a huge risk. Fehrnstrom argued that Dobson and Romney “may not agree on theology, but they share in common values like protecting the sanctity of life.”

This is a problematic issue for the Romney campaign to raise with pro-lifers like Dobson and other members of the Council on National Policy. Not only is Romney’s pro-life commitment of a recent vintage, it remains inconsistent on the very important issue of embryonic stem cell researchmore

Question: why the indecision from Evangelicals—or, more precisely, why are Evangelical leaders emitting incoherent noise?—answer: the problem of maintaining power and influence. Regard:

” … the leaders of the [Evangelical] movement have a clear hierarchy of preferences [in this election],” writes the estimable eye of eyeon2008.com in a ruthlessly honest analytical discursus titled Why the religious right hasn’t found a candidate

  1. Support the candidate who wins the White House. Call this the George W. Bush case. Might be the Fred Thompson or Mitt Romney case.
  2. Support the candidate who wins the primary but loses the general. Call this the Hillary Clinton case or the Mike Huckabee case. It may also be the Thompson or Mitt Romney case also.
  3. Oppose the candidate who wins the primary, but then be forced to support the candidate in the general. (But probably get no love from the White House if the candidate wins) Call this the John McCain case.
  4. Oppose the (GOP) candidate in the primary and the general who wins the White House. Call this the Rudy Giuliani case.

Clearly the last two are unacceptable to any interest group leader. They simply lose access when, eventually, their followers will, to some extent, rally around whoever is in the White House. The leader is marginalized over time.

The other two cases are the interesting parts. I don’t know anyone who thinks that Brownback and Huckabee could really win a general election, although that is shifting for Huckabee to some extent. Huckabee would face his own problems; in some sense, Mike Huckabee is to the Club for Growth what Rudy Giuliani is to James Dobson. So conservative Christian leaders are sitting down and asking themselves:

  1. Can Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney win the nomination?
  2. Can they win the general?

If the answer to (2) is “no”, then the right strategy is to back whoever allows them to build the strongest organization. Perhaps you could call this the Bob Dole strategy? But if the answer to (2) is “yes”, then they have to figure out which pony to pick, or, at least, which pony not to kill. And, again, there are reasons, in both candidates, for the followers not to follow. In the case of Mitt Romney, it is his religion. (note that I am not defending that, just saying that it is a reality) Increasingly, Fred Thompson has disappointed religious right leaders on gay marriage. And these are echoes of a past that is even more problematic for them.

So you get a hodgepodgemore

So: You also get a Willard Milton Romney attempting to spin the confusion as movement in his favour. This is what happens when leaders—e.g. Dobson—fail to lead: you get non-leaders rising up to fill the void—e.g. Romney.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.





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