Republican Party

John McCain: A Good Listener

As Tony Perkins explained to James Dobson’s audience earlier this week, the Religious Right is thrilled with John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate not only because Palin is everything they have been praying for, but because it demonstrates, for once, that McCain “can listen.” 

And not only will McCain “listen” to the Right, he will respond accordingly to their screams and threats – at least that is how Richard Viguerie sees it:

Conservatives who refused to fall in line behind the Republican Party--who maintained their independence, at the price of being ridiculed as "cranky" or "impossible to please"--are the ones responsible for John McCain's brilliant, game-changing selection of Sarah Palin, Richard A. Viguerie said.

"Those who backed John McCain as the 'lesser of two evils' did no favors to themselves, their movement, or to Senator McCain," said Viguerie, chairman of ConservativeHQ.com. "He needed to know what conservatives really thought, and he needed to know what had to be done to get conservatives enthusiastically on board his campaign.

"As we know now, what he had to do was pick Sarah Palin," he said.

[Credit goes to] conservatives, especially religious conservatives, who "went nuclear" in their criticism in the past couple of weeks before the announcement upon hearing that the pick might be Joe Lieberman, Tom Ridge, or someone nearly as disastrous for the McCain campaign and the Republican Party. ("Those of us who spoke up strongly were roundly criticized by some conservatives," Viguerie noted.) It was our firestorm that stopped that catastrophe from coming to pass.

"Across this country, conservatives and Republicans at every level let John McCain know what he needed to do to get them fired up and excited and ready to go door-to-door and make phone calls and do all the things that have to be done. They told him, and he listened, and his selection of Sarah Palin has completely turned his campaign around … [T]hose conservatives who held to their principles are the men and women 'in the arena' who can claim their own share of John McCain and Sarah Palin's triumph last night."

So that is why Religious Right leaders - who, until last week, were nearly unanimously unenthusiastic about McCain - are now full-throated supporters:  because they stared him down and won and now know that he can be bullied and intimidated into doing their bidding.  

Quite a maverick.

Bauer Exposes McCain Campaign's Hands-On Role in Crafting GOP Platform

On Tuesday, Focus on the Family released audio of a special James Dobson radio program, recorded last Friday after John McCain's announcement that Sarah Palin would be his running mate.  Containing analysis of the decision from Tony Perkins, Gary Bauer, Tom Minnery, and Kelly Shackelford, the group of right-wing heavyweights discussed everything from the elation at the announcement felt among those gathered for the Council for National Policy meeting to Gary Bauer’s role as the McCain campaign’s surrogate to the Republican Platform Committee in crafting the “the strongest pro-life platform in the history of the Republican Party.”

Among the most striking information was Gary Bauer’s revelation that, contrary to the McCain’s campaign’s claims that it was taking a hands-off approach to the platform, they were actively involved and supportive of the Right Wing’s efforts to craft the hardline document that emerged.   In fact, Bauer reports that he was tapped by the McCain campaign to be their surrogate and that the campaign was "very open to the kind of changes" the Religious Right was pushing.

Among the other interesting facts contained in the program was Shackelford’s declaration that CNP members felt that God was answering their prayers with Palin and Tony Perkins' assessment that McCain has shifted dramatically in their direction from a year ago and that his decision to name Palin as his running mate shows that “he can listen.” But perhaps the most entertaining thing about the program was the shame in Dobson’s voice as he explained how he has gone from a vocal critic of McCain to someone who, “if I went into the polling booth today, I would pull the lever for John McCain.”

Listen with player below or to the mp3 here

 

Dobson: Have you ever, in your life, seen as large a crowd of people give a standing ovation to [the Palin announcement on] CNN? Have you ever seen that happen?

Kelly Shackelford: I don’t think so and the other thing is, a number of people literally had tears in their eyes. I think that there was such pent-up worry, prayer that had been going on for so long and they really felt like the Lord was answering those prayers with somebody who is pro-life, somebody who is committed to the definition of marriage and the issues that we believe in so strongly.

Tony Perkins: This was a tremendous strategic decision by the McCain campaign.  They have seen social conservatives drifting away from them over the last year and, in part in the last year there’s been some pushing and shoving going on as the social conservatives have not signed on to the McCain campaign.  But he has shown …

Dobson: Tell me about it. I’ve been pretty explicit about it.

Perkins: And there’s a reason for that because he’s not where he is today a year ago.  But he has shown that he listens and I though two weeks ago at the Saddleback Forum he did a tremendous job at being straight-forward and he got the attention of social conservatives that he can listen, he can respond.  And then today, with this selection, I think the strongest among the names that have been out there, he has shown that he cares about these issues and has solidified a strong conservative, pro-life, pro-family ticket for the Republican Party.

Dobson: Gary, you have been advising the McCain campaign for some time and so you really signed on with him before any of the rest of us made up our minds …

Gary Bauer: I’ve been watching not only today, I’ve been watching the last couple of weeks and giving my advice to everybody I could within the McCain campaign.  I would disagree with my good friend Tony, I think this is where John McCain’s been for a long time.  He really does have a twenty-five year pro-life voting record, except for a couple of notable exceptions, but I thought this choice was just outstanding. I actually think over the last couple of weeks, from Saddleback where he was very clear on these issues to what he’s been emphasizing in his speeches and town meetings, the platform which was adopted this week – just an outstanding pro-life platform – and now this vice presidential selection, there’s just a real commitment that he’s showing here.

Dobson: I’ve been pretty vocal in my opposition to John McCain. I haven’t done it on Focus on the Family, but I’ve done it in the media and for some good reasons.  I could right now tick off fifteen or twenty things that have concerned me.  And, having made that statement, the assumption is that I must stay with it even if the circumstances change. And they have changed.  Saddleback changed me.  What I heard John McCain say at Saddleback didn’t eliminate all of the concerns but it did draw me in his direction.  And then, of course, this selection and other things.  Tony, you said McCain seems to be changing - Gary, you disagreed with that - but it sure looks that way to me.  And so, I am not endorsing John McCain.  I have only endorsed a presidential candidate once in my life and that was George Bush in the second term after I’d watched him for four years.  I just don’t endorse presidential candidates and I don’t see myself doing that this time. But I am moving closer and closer to being able to say … well, I’ll say it now, if I went into the polling booth today, I would pull the lever for John McCain.

Bauer: I got appointed by the McCain campaign to be their advisor on the platform.  It was an interesting assignment.  I arrived there, usually I’m on the outside beating on whoever the nominee is to do better, but when I got there and met with the McCain staff people I was immediately amazed, surprised and happy to hear them say “look, we think it’s a great platform already, it’s pro-life but we know people might want to strengthen it and we’re open to that.  We want to work with people, we don’t want to alienate anybody and we’d like you to go back and forth between the delegates and us and see if we can work these things out.”  I think that Kelly will affirm that, other than a few places, there really weren’t many brutal fights. Most of it was done in a very collegial way with the McCain people being very open to the kind of changes that made the platform draft even better than it was when it started.

Dobson: Would you agree that this is the strongest pro-life platform in the history of the Republican Party?

Shackelford:  There’s no doubt.  I was on that sub-committee and every pro-life leader who was there watching from Phyllis Schlafly to you name the pro-life group, they were all watching and they all said this is the strongest pro-life platform ever in the history of the party.   We not only kept the famous plank that was put in during the time of Ronald Reagan, but we added additional strong language that made it even stronger.  It was really incredible to be a part of this and I will affirm what Gary said; this is my third platform committee in a row and it was different than the last ones.  The McCain campaign not only did not fight us as severely as the last campaigns did but they actually were in favor of the platform becoming more conservative because they knew that’s where the people were.

Schlafly's Advice: Don't Marry Sarah Palin

When John McCain named Sarah Palin as his running mate, the Right could barely contain its glee and among those most ethused by the pick was Phyllis Schlafly who, even after Palin was a no-show at her convention reception, had nothing but praise for her and her priorities: 

Schlafly told WND McCain's choice of Palin was the best he could possibly have made.

"Sarah Palin has reinvigorated the entire Republican Party," she said. "And it's across the board. It's not just pro-lifers. She's a breath of fresh air. She's right on every issue."

Schlafly addressed criticism that Palin is hypocritical, because her demanding job as a political leader, while mothering five children, conflicts with the traditional values she espouses.

"We do stand up for the role of the full-time homemaker," Schlafly replied. "On the other hand, a lot of women work hard. I think people who don't have any children, or have one or two, don't understand what life is like with more children."

This reminded me of a post entitled "Don't Marry Phyllis Schlafly" that I wrote a few years back after Schlafly blasted Steve Forbes for apologizing for publishing a widely criticized piece by Michael Noer in his magazine entitled "Don't Marry Career Women."

In the original piece, Noer listed several reasons why "whatever you do, [no men should] marry a woman with a career."  When Forbes, the publisher, was forced to apologize for running the piece, Schlafly came to Noer's defense:

Eagle Forum's Phyllis Schlafly feels Forbes has no reason to apologize since the facts and statistics Noer cited were sound. In fact, she suggests, an article like this should have been written 20 years ago, and this one still hits the right note today because, contrary to the feminist myth, a woman really cannot "have it all" -- at least, not all at the same time.

To Schlafly, this is a simple question of practicality. "You can't have it all at the same time. There are not that many hours in the day," she asserts. "Now, with our lengthened lifespan, a woman can have it all; I think I've had it all," she says, "but you don't have it at the same time. A baby is extremely demanding -- even more demanding than a husband."

But the issue Noer's article raises is not really about women who have careers, the pro-family spokeswoman points out. What the author is really highlighting in the Forbes article, she contends, is the problem of wives who set the wrong priorities.

"A lot of the newspapers ... have published articles about how some of the most highly educated women -- women who graduated from the elite colleges and then got graduate degrees like MBAs or JDs -- have put their career ahead of husband and family," Schlafly notes. "In many of these cases, in the woman's scale of values, the husband is ranking third," she says.

The real issue is not women having careers, Schlafly says, but women making their careers their highest priority, above family. When that type of situation takes place, she observes, it is not likely that a husband will stick around.

Presumably, Schlfaly's enthusiastic support of Palin stems from the fact that Palin has her priorities straight and won't be putting her "career ahead of husband and family" because, after all, a "baby is extremely demanding -- even more demanding than a husband."

We Want to Believe

Yesterday, David Barton wisely suggested that people ignore John McCain's reputation as a "maverick" and ignore whatever it is he says in favor of judging him based on his actual record.  With that view we couldn't agree more, but now it looks like Barton is so giddy by McCain's decision to name Sarah Palin as his running mate that he's gone into full-on Kool-Aid-drinking mode:

Delegates including David Barton of Aledo, a former vice chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, said McCain's choice of Palin had cemented support for the GOP ticket among faith voters who had some distrust of him.

"It was an affirmation to conservatives and faith voters that McCain really is a good guy. He's not just pandering," Barton said.

Although McCain had met with faith groups before announcing his choice of Palin, Barton said, "Everybody was at arm's length and said, ‘We'll see.' Now it's a full embrace."

Barton is right about one thing: McCain's not "just pandering" to the Right with the Palin pick, he's flagrantly and unabashedly pandering to them.

Sarah Palin Is Your New Ronald Reagan

In less than a week, one-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has gone from a complete unknown to savior of the Republican Party.  From the moment she was announced as John McCain's vice presidential pick, the Right has been gushing nonstop, heaping praise upon her, and proclaiming her the answer to all of their prayers.

And so it doesn't really come as much of a surprise that, after days of non-stop Palin hagiography, the Right is starting to run out of ways to express its adulation and that all that was left was to pay her the greatest compliment they know by christening her "the next Ronald Reagan":

"A week ago, conservatives and most Republicans were down-in-the-dumps, listless, unengaged. That lack of enthusiasm is a thing of the past. Tonight, thanks to Senator McCain and Governor Palin, conservatives and Republicans are fired up as they have not been since Ronald Reagan was president," he said.

"Sarah Palin is the next Ronald Reagan," Viguerie, the Chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, said.

"In less than a week, Governor Sarah has captured the heart and soul of this convention, the Republican Party, and the conservative movement. She brings together social conservatives, and economic conservatives and libertarians, and people who are fed up with the Culture of Corruption that infests our nation's politics," he said.

"From this moment forward, there's no limit on where Sarah Palin might go," Viguerie concluded.

This is especially remarkable considering that Viguerie has, in recent years, been not only a militant critic of John McCain but the GOP in general - just a few months ago he was demanding the wholesale resignation of the Republican Party's leadership for destroying the GOP's reputation and having "failed - or outright betrayed - the conservative voters who put them in their positions."

How prevelant is this idea becoming?  Even Michael Reagan is making it:

I've been trying to convince my fellow conservatives that they have been wasting their time in a fruitless quest for a new Ronald Reagan to emerge and lead our party and our nation. I insisted that we'd never see his like again because he was one of a kind.

I was wrong!

Wednesday night I watched the Republican National Convention on television and there, before my very eyes, I saw my Dad reborn; only this time he's a she.

McCain’s Anti-Choice Choice

In the moments after John McCain revealed his choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate, a group of right-wing luminaries held a conference call to publicly swoon over her selection. “She could not be a better Vice Presidential pick,” gushed Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group. Ken Blackwell, the controversial former Ohio Secretary of State and vice chairman of the GOP platform committee, concurred: “I just think that John McCain couldn’t have made a better choice.”

The reason for their enthusiasm was clear – abortion. Or rather, Palin’s opposition to it, even in cases of rape or incest. Blackwell called the McCain-Palin ticket the “strongest pro-life team with a pro-life platform in the history of the Republican party.” Coming from an anti-abortion zealot like Blackwell, that’s not faint praise.

Not surprisingly, the speakers thought Palin stacked up favorably against Joe Biden. In response to a question posed by Sarah Posner, Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life said that Palin is a good Catholic and Biden is no Catholic at all: “He's a Catholic who's contradicting one of the key tenants of Catholicism. And claiming that he's practicing is simply not true. You can't practice the faith when you deny it.” (Pavone failed to note that Palin was rebaptized into the Assemblies of God as a girl.)

McCain has worked for years to cultivate his maverick image, including deliberate efforts to obscure his strong anti-choice record and sentiments. But no such ambiguity is possible with Palin on the ticket. “For those who have had ambivalence or who have simply been unsure of how pro-life Senator McCain is – and of course his voting record is very strong on pro-life – now that ambivalence will certainly be counteracted by this VP selection,” said Pavone.

McCain shouldn’t take too much comfort in the heaps of praise from the far right because it cuts both ways. As he removes lingering doubts among Religious Right voters, he is creating new doubts among moderate voters who are increasingly seeing the holes in his maverick schtick. He’s riding a public opinion seesaw, and not even real straight talk will get him off it.

McCain's Capitulation to the Religious Right Now Complete

Back in 2000, John McCain solidified his "maverick" reputation by lambasting the Religious Right, labeling Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell "agents of intolerance" and decrying the Right's role within the Republican Party:

They are corrupting influences on religion and politics, and those who practice them in the name of religion or in the name of the Republican Party or in the name of America shame our faith, our party and our country.

Since then, McCain has been working hard to get back in their good graces, though the Right has been openly skeptical and their support for him has been lukewarm at best.  But all of that changed with his decision to name relative-unknown Sarah Palin as his running mate.

I can say without exaggeration that, in all my years of watching the Right, I have never seen them as excited about anything as they are about the Palin nomination.  Nor, for that matter, have I ever seen a prominent politician more blatantly capitulate to their demands:

James Dobson, Focus on the Family:  "A lot of people were praying, and I believe Sarah Palin is God's answer.”

James Dobson: “[A]n outstanding choice that should be extremely reassuring to the conservative base of his party.”

James Dobson:  I have only endorsed one presidential candidate in my life and that was George Bush in the second term after I had watched him for four years … So I’m very reluctant to do that … But I can tell you that if I had to go into the [voting booth today], I would pull that lever.

Tony Perkins, Family Research Council: “Senator McCain made an outstanding pick.”

Connie Mackey, FRCAction:  “I am elated with Senator McCain's choice.”

Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel: "Absolutely brilliant choice.”

Richard Land: “Governor Palin will delight the Republican base.”

Rick Scarborough, Vision America, “I’m elated. I think it’s a superb choice."

Ralph Reed: “They’re beyond ecstatic. This is a home run.”

Gary Bauer, American Values: "[A] grand slam home run."

Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum: “She is the best possible choice.”

Janet Folger, Faith2Action: “[T]he selection of Sarah Palin is more than ‘Brilliant!’ ‘Electrifying!’ and ‘Energizing!’ The selection of Sarah Palin will lead to words like: ‘Rejuvenating!’ ‘Victory!’ and ‘Landslide!’"

Wendy Wright, Concerned Women for America: “Governor Palin will change the dynamics of the entire presidential race.”

Janice Shaw Crouse, CWA's Beverly LaHaye Institute: “She is an outstanding woman who will be an excellent role model for the nation's young people.”

David Barton, Wallbuilders: "The talk won't be about, 'look at Sarah Palin' as much as 'look at what McCain's choice of Palin says about McCain's core beliefs.”

Jonathan Falwell: “John McCain made it very clear that his administration was going to be a pro-life administration, and he proved that’s his belief and his passion today with the choice of Sarah Palin.”

Jerry Falwell, Jr.: “I think it’s a brilliant choice.”

Charmaine Yoest, Americans United for Life: “And then when [Palin] was announced — it was like you couldn’t breathe. [We] were grabbing each other and jumping up and down.”

Gary Marx, Judicial Confirmation Network: "I can tell you that this pick tells millions in the base of the party that they can trust McCain. More specifically that they can trust him with Supreme Court picks and other key appointments’"

David Keene, American Conservative Union: “The selection of Governor Palin is great news for conservatives, for the party and for the country. I predict any conservatives who have been lukewarm thus far in their support of the McCain candidacy will work their hearts out between now and November for the McCain-Palin ticket."

In eight years, John McCain has gone from attacking the Right's "corrupting influences on religion and politics" to answering James Dobson's prayers. Absolutely remarkable.

The Return of the Restoration Project

Back in 2006, we wrote a report about the "Patriot Pastors" movement, various state level efforts by evangelical pastors to organize so-called “Restoration Projects” that would transform America by applying the significant resources of their churches to political campaigns. The most high-profile effort was in Ohio and run by Rod Parsley and Russell Johnson, with close cooperation from then Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, though efforts were underway in several other states as well, including Texas. While the forces behind the Ohio movement are lying low, with Parsley still smarting from being humiliated by John McCain and Blackwell busy with his various jobs with the Family Research Council, the Club for Growth, and Tom DeLay's Coalition for a Conservative Majority, the Texas Freedom Network reports that the efforts in Texas are still going strong, thanks to the committed backing of Gov. Rick Perry:

The governor’s disturbing mix of faith and militancy comes in an invitation to conservative evangelical pastors to attend a Texas Restoration Project event in Austin next month … The Pastors’ Policy Briefing on Oct. 9-10 in Austin will be the group’s eighth since May 2005. … According to the invitation, [Mike] Huckabee will be joining Gov. Perry at the Austin event next month. Other speakers will include David Barton, who is the former Texas Republican Party vice chairman and the founder of the Christian advocacy group WallBuilders, and Kelly Shackelford, head of Free Market Foundation, which is Focus on the Family’s Texas affiliate.

TFN has also posted the invitation sent out by Perry:

Both our nation and our Judeo Christian heritage are under attack by a force that is more dangerous than any threat our world has faced in recent memory. I am convinced that our ability to defeat the radical jihadists who threaten our nation will be significantly impacted by the prayers and leadership of America’s evangelical pastors.

"Rediscovering God in America” was created to inspire people of faith to engage the culture and bring America back to our worldwide standing as a beacon of hope, a city shining on a hill.

Because God entrusted you to care for and lead His flock, you can play a key role in restoring God to the center of American life, thus strengthening our nation to confront this looming threat.

While Congress occupies its time trying to legislate defeat in Iraq, we hope you will attend a Pastors’ Policy Briefing that will equip you to walk point in the war of values and ideas.

Rediscovering God in America-Austin is intended to remind us that excuses are not the proper strategy when facing evil and confronting enemies. Instead, we must rally godly people and seek God’s provision for the resources, the courage, and the strength necessary to win and, ultimately, glorify Him.

Schlafly Threatens Walkout if Lieberman Named VP

As we noted several times recently, the Right has been anything but unclear that a pro-choice running mate for John McCain would be utterly unacceptable. But even worse than that would be a pro-choice, former Democrat like Joe Lieberman.

As we wrote earlier this week, picking Lieberman would be an unmistakable poke in the eye by McCain to the GOP's right-wing base - one that would not go unnoticed:

But Lieberman’s long history as a Democrat could make for a bizarre debate with Biden — with the two of them sharing long records supporting labor causes and abortion rights and a host of other issues that would infuriate McCain’s activist base.

In essence, said one insider, a Lieberman pick “means McCain would run a campaign without a core constituency of the Republican Party.”

Phyllis Schlafly, of the conservative Eagle Forum, was more blunt: “I think there would be a walkout on Lieberman at the convention. He’s not a Republican.”

For their part, the Family Research Council can't imagine what McCain could possibly be thinking either:

McCain would presumably pledge not to run again and Lieberman would never be the GOP nominee in 2012, thus it would be the swan song for them both. Joe Lieberman has a reasonable and thoughtful image, but his positions on abortion and homosexual marriage would mark a major break for the GOP. It's hard to imagine a more divisive step for McCain, but it would be odd at other levels. By acknowledging from day one that his administration is lame duck, by holding simultaneously the thought that he would remake American politics without touching the nature of his own party, by making his ticket focus solely on foreign policy when economic news dominates the headlines, McCain would be letting the air out of his own balloon.

The NBRA Explains The “Southern Strategy”

One thing that has always confused me is the Right Wing’s obsession with recounting the racist history of the Democratic Party and the anti-slavery origins of the Republican Party that inevitably seems to end right around the mid-1960s.  

For example, we wrote a report about right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton a few years back that examined a video he produced called “American History in Black and White” in which he diligently recounts the atrocities committed by early members of what was then the Democratic Party and ties them into positions held by current members of the party:

Barton claims that Democrats hailed the Dred Scott decision because it affirmed “their belief that it was proper to have slavery and hold African Americans in bondage.” He then takes it a step further, making a direct comparison between this decision and modern Democrats’ support of reproductive choice for women, claiming “Democrats have largely taken that same position in unborn human life, that an unborn human is really just disposable property to do with as one wishes. African Americans were the victims of this disposable property ideology a century and a half ago, and still are today … For over a century and a half, Democrats have wrongly argued that some human life is merely disposable personal property and black Americans have suffered most under this philosophy.”

On and on he went, until he reached the for passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act, at which point his “history lesson” ended.  

This tactic continues even today – just last week the Wall Street Journal ran a piece accusing the Democratic National Committee of posting a history of the party on its website that is “so sanitized of historical reality it makes Stalin look like historian David McCullough.” Not surprisingly, the WSJ piece received prominence on the website of the National Black Republican Association, whose leader, Frances Rice, has made it her mission  to inform the world about what “Democrats have done in the past and are doing now to black people … They are keeping blacks in virtual slavery."

The obvious question raised by all of this is not why the Democrats are reluctant to discuss it, but why right-wingers who are obsessed with it never manage to explain the so-called “Southern Strategy” employed by Richard Nixon to win over traditional Southern Democrats who were angry by the party’s emerging pro-civil rights positions.  As Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips explained it:   

From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that... but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.

Ronald Regan’s strategist Lee Atwater was even more blunt about the reasoning behind the strategy:

“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger,’ ” said Atwater. “By 1968, you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things, and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.”

Given that, beginning in the late 1960s, the GOP made a concerted and successful to court Southern voters who had traditionally been supporters of the Democratic Party which, as the Right loves to point out, was fundamentally racist, it has been confusing to understand how those who hammer this point rationalize this obvious disconnect.  Usually, they do so by not talking about it. 

But finally someone shed some light on this question when the NBRA’s Rice explained the history of the “Southern Strategy” at a sparsely attended conference earlier this month.  You see, it was not that Nixon and the GOP were courting racist Southern voters; Nixon was really just trying to get the “fair-minded people in the South to stop discriminating against blacks”:

That strategy was designed to get the fair-minded people in the South to stop discriminating against blacks and to stop supporting a party that did not share their values.  So those fair-minded ones who migrated to the Republican Party did so.  They joined us, we did not join the racists.

If Rice's history is correct, how does she explain that both President Bush and former RNC chair Ken Mehlman apologized for the Southern Strategy, with Mehlman admitting in 2005 that "Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong."

God and the GOP Share The Same Agenda

As we have noted several times in the past, David Barton of Wallbuilders likes to pass himself off as a historian committed to uncovering “America's forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on the moral, religious, and constitutional foundation on which America was built.” In reality, he is a Religious Right activist committed to spreading biased “history” for the benefit for the Republican Party – that is, after all, what they regularly pay him to do.

And so it is no surprise that he is out with a new document [PDF] just before the election designed to “help [Biblical voters] evaluate the candidates”:   

According to the Bible (c.f., Deuteronomy 28; 1 Chronicles 21; 1 Kings 18), a nation’s righteousness is determined by its public policies and how well those policies conform to God’s standards …In America, the only way there will be God-honoring leaders is if God-honoring citizens elect them; so the first and foremost consideration in any election is whether the candidate will advance policies that promote Biblical standards of righteousness.

Barton asserts that while the Bible contains a “comprehensive system of 613 laws delivered through Moses in the Old Testament,” God prioritized what was most important by issuing his “Top Ten” list and that, while things like poverty, environment, health care, immigration, taxation might be important, they were not important enough to crack the top ten and are thus of lesser importance.

So what exactly does God consider the “highest ranking issues directly affecting national righteousness”?  According to Barton, He cares primarily about judges, abortion, gays, and the public posting of the Ten Commandments: 

This election will likely have a greater impact on the nation through the judiciary than any presidential election for the past three decades, for when the next President takes office in January 2009, six of the nine Supreme Court Justices will be at least 70 years old – and five of those six Justices have repeatedly struck down public policies friendly to Biblical values. Therefore, Biblical voters should make their selection for President based first and foremost on the type of judges he will appoint.

Defending the unborn must continue to remain a priority for Biblical voters. The right to life is the first of the three specifically enumerated inalienable rights set forth in our founding documents, and American government was established on the thesis that certain rights come from God and that government must protect those rights inviolable. Significantly, if a leader does not protect the inalienable right to life, then all other inalienable rights are likewise in jeopardy … where a candidate stands on the issue of abortion is of paramount importance not only for the sake of the unborn but also for the preservation of our other inalienable rights.

If a candidate is willing to accept, empower, and advance homosexuality, it is a clear indication that he does not embrace the moral absolutes of the Bible … While there are many areas specifically addressed by God’s moral law (e.g., adultery, pre-marital sex, etc.), only homosexuality is currently the focus of favorable political action. Therefore, where a candidate stands on that issue is one of the best indicators of whether he recognizes and embraces God’s moral absolutes.

Today, secularists have convinced many Americans to accept a compartmentalization of their faith, telling them that it is appropriate to acknowledge God at church, home, or in other private settings but not in public venues. If a candidate holds this position, it means that he is willing to disconnect God from what he does, and the entire nation is put at risk by leaders who compartmentalize faith.  Biblical voters should select leaders who will seek to protect and expand rather than restrict or weaken the opportunity for the public acknowledgment of God and the inclusion of His principles in public venues.

It’s amazing how frequently God’s principles perfectly line up with the Religious Right’s political agenda.

Huck’s Army Falls Back In Line

Last week, we reported that the on-line activists who constitute Huck’s Army were warning that they would not support John McCain if Mike Huckabee was not named his running mate or at least chosen to deliver the keynote address at the upcoming convention.  

While Huckabee obviously can’t control what his on-line supporters do, that doesn’t mean he can’t undercut them:

Huckabee said he assumes he will be asked to speak during the convention, but didn't know whether he'd be a major player in the GOP's quadrennial pep rally.

"My goal right now at the convention would be to be the most helpful I can be to Sen. McCain," Huckabee said. "Whether that's visible or invisible, that's something he's got to decide, not me."

His schedule will include a couple performances with his Arkansas-based rock band and a conference on obesity. Huckabee also will join the Creative Coalition for a news conference on the importance of music and art education in schools.

"What I want to do is help not just Sen. McCain, but my party and my country," he said, adding, "This isn't about me anymore. It's really about John McCain and winning."

And predictably, the activists behind Huck’s Army have now sent out a clarifying email saying that the previous message was not the official position of the group:

The message that went out to our forum members today is not the official position of HucksArmy and was a communication from a few of our members who were concerned by some dismissive treatment toward supporters of conservative cultural values.

Many of our members and leaders consider the earlier statement overly harsh and demanding. Understand that any directives that HucksArmy sends out is not a command but an option.

HucksArmy is a community and not an organization and so we rarely issue statements representing the whole of our community.

HucksArmy as a whole is not demanding that Huckabee be the VP or be given a keynote at convention or else. While we would love to see these things happen, we do not have any official demands as a collective group.

But just because Huckabee and his supporters are playing nice, that still doesn't mean they've given up their almost militant opposition to Mitt Romney:

Bauer said he personally believes that Romney "would be a great running mate" and said he has conveyed that message personally to Romney. Bauer, chairman of the Campaign for Working Families political action committee, said he was not allowed to say whether he advised McCain to pick Romney.

Bauer said that he recently conducted an unscientific poll among activists about who should be picked for vice president and said that Romney won a plurality of votes. He said that "it was notable" that among those who backed Huckabee, "many of them said negative things about Governor Romney."

In fact, a battle between Huckabee and Romey supporters continues to unfold in Michigan:

In a blistering e-mail Friday to Michigan Republicans, a former aide to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign accused Michigan social conservative activist and Mike Huckabee supporter Gary Glenn of "a vicious smear campaign" against Romney.

Katie Packer, the strategist for Romney's successful Michigan primary campaign, accused Glenn, the head of the American Family Association of Michigan, of distorting Romney's record on social issues and "declaring war on other members of the Republican party."

Glenn, in an e-mail to The Detroit News, responded with a list of criticisms of Romney's record on social issues. "If Katie wants to have another full-fledged public debate about Mitt Romney's pro-abortion, pro-homosexual record, now is an excellent time," he wrote.

LOL Ridge: I Can Haz VP?

Ever since John McCain suggested last week that he was open to the possibility of naming a pro-choice running mate, perhaps someone like Tom Ridge, the reaction from the Right has been consistent and nearly unanimous agreement that doing so would be an utter disaster.

But apparently there are some in the GOP who still think it would be a good idea if McCain tapped someone like Ridge … Tom Ridge, for one:  

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge said Sunday he thinks Republicans would accept a vice presidential candidate who supports abortion rights.

But, he said, whomever John McCain picks as a running mate should defer to McCain on the issue.

McCain opposes abortion rights, but he riled some conservatives last week when he suggested his running mate could — like Ridge — support abortion rights.

"What he was saying to the rest of the world is that we need to accept both points of view," Ridge said in a broadcast interview. "He's not judgmental about me or my belief. He just disagrees with me."

Ridge is believed to be on McCain's short list of vice presidential candidates, though it would be a major break with Republican orthodoxy for McCain to pick a running mate who supports abortion rights.

"I think that would be up to, first of all, to John to decide whether he wants a pro-choice running mate; then we would have to see how the Republican Party would rally around it," Ridge said. "At the end of the day, I think the Republican Party will be comfortable with whatever choice John makes."

Religious Right Leaders Bash Obama, Abortion Rights at "Non-Political” Event

A group of national Religious Right leaders used a press conference held in Washington the day before The Call – a “non-political” youth prayer rally on the mall – to talk about the event and to denounce Sen. Barack Obama and criticize Christians who are considering voting for him. Lou Engle, the increasingly visible organizer of similar rallies around the country said the event was designed to mobilize young Christians around ending abortion. Immediately after saying the event was not political, and was not about endorsing a candidate, he launched into an attack on Sen. Obama’s pro-choice record and implicitly questioned the candidate’s faith, describing politicians “who say they’re Christian.” Engle, who is also actively backing anti-gay ballot initiatives on marriage, called pro-choice and pro-equality efforts “false justice movements.” Bishop Harry Jackson, the most visible African American Religious Right spokesman, wasn’t coy about his political message for the day: if Sen. McCain chooses a pro-abortion vice president he will give the election to Obama. Jackson called it “tantamount to political suicide.” Jackson also returned to his standard denunciation of abortion as “black genocide” and “pandemic extermination.” Jackson said that America needs God’s favor, and that this year’s election – an important “expression of desire” for the people of God – will basically let God know whether we deserve it. The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins said that it’s right for evangelicals to offer solutions on issues like AIDS, fiscal policy, and racial reconciliation, but that doesn’t mean all issues are equal. He said young evangelicals are more fervently anti-abortion than their parents, and that waning evangelical support for the Republican Party was a reflection of how poorly the party functioned in power, not a sign of reduced commitment. Asked about Sen. Obama’s outreach to evangelical voters, Jackson said he thought it was good to be considered a swing vote, and hoped that it could push both parties closer to evangelical concerns. Engle was less enthusiastic, denouncing Obama’s record on abortion issues in graphic terms and warning young evangelicals that if they compromised on abortion, history would stand in judgment of them the way it stands in judgment on churches’ silence on slavery. Former presidential candidate and long-shot VP possibility Mike Huckabee said the purpose of the event was “not political at all.” Huckabee, like Engle, cited Martin Luther King, Jr. as a role model, saying it took “not a politician but a preacher” to remind the country of the evils of racism. During Q&A, Huckabee said he’d support McCain no matter who he chose as VP, but he thought a pro-choice running mate would hurt McCain by draining enthusiasm and intensity from his evangelical supporters.

The McCain Meltdown

It is hard to overstate the shockwave that John McCain sent through the GOP’s right-wing base with his comments earlier this week that he would not rule out the possibility of naming a pro-choice running mate (though not a pro-gay one, of course).

Right-wing leaders were quick to denounce the statement, with Tony Perkins telling the Washington Times yesterday that “if he picks a pro-choice running mate, I don't see how he can win this race."  And today, Phyllis Schlafly weighed in, calling it a “mistake,” and others obviously share that assessment:

"If Tom Ridge is on the ticket, I will not be voting Republican," Home School Legal Defense Association President Mike Farris said told The Washington Times. He thought for a moment, then added: "I won't be voting Democratic either."

The widely influential founder and chairman of the American Family Association Chairman, Donald P. Wildmon, said a Ridge pick would be a "disaster for Republicans."

Concerned Women for America Chairman Beverly LaHaye said "many will walk" away from the Republican ticket if it includes a pro-choice vice president.

Elsewhere, state-based right-wing leaders, many of whom have had personal meetings with McCain, are likewise making their displeasure known

“It absolutely floored me,” said Phil Burress, head of the Ohio-based Citizens for Community Values. “It would doom him in Ohio.”

Burress emailed about a dozen “pro-family leaders” he knows outside Ohio and forwarded it to three McCain aides tasked with Christian conservative outreach.

“That choice will end his bid for the presidency and spell defeat for other Republican candidates,” Burress wrote in the message.

He and other Ohio conservatives met privately with McCain in June, and while the nominee didn’t promise them an anti-abortion rights running mate, his staff said they could “almost guarantee” that would be the case, Burress recalled.

Now, Burress said, “he’s not even sure [Christian conservatives] would vote for him let alone work for him if he picked a pro-abortion running mate.”

James Muffett, head of Michigan’s Citizens for Traditional Values, met with McCain along with a handful of other Michigan-based social conservatives Wednesday night.

To select a running mate who supports abortion rights would be “wrong-headed, short-sighted, fracture the Republican Party and not allow us to capitalize on the Democratic Party’s fracture right now,” Muffett argued.

“If he does that, it makes our job 100 times harder. It would dampen enthusiasm at a time when evangelicals are looking for ways to gin up enthusiasm.”

McCain, Muffett said, got that message in their meeting.

“Some people in the movement say it would be the kiss of death. He heard that in the room last night.”

Predictably, Gary Bauer - one of McCain’s earliest right-wing supporters who seems to only show up when the candidate does something to anger Bauer’s right-wing allies - appeared on the scene to assure them that there was nothing to worry about:

Gary Bauer, founder of the Campaign for Working Families, said he isn't worried.

"I’m confident that at the end of the day, the running mate will be pro-life," he told Family News in Focus.

McCain has a solid pro-life voting record on abortion issues and has promised to appoint "strict constructionists" to the Supreme Court.

First, The NBRA Is Going to Need a Time Machine

As we’ve noted several times in the past, the National Black Republican Association is a fringe right-wing group that seems to have little in the way of staff or money, yet still manages to generate attention for itself every election cycle by running ridiculous ads and then waiting for the media to report on them:

[NBRA Chair Frances] Rice managed to put up a "Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican" billboard in South Carolina this year, and, leading up to the elections, ran a radio ad in swing states. In the ad a black woman says, "Dr. King was a real man," and another responds, "You know he was a Republican."

Rice said she wanted to start a conversation about the history of the Republican Party. The tactic proved its worth in media coverage. She ticks off the news outlets that covered the campaign.

"I spent a few thousand and garnered half a million in free coverage by my estimate," Rice said.

NBRA.jpg

Given the success the NBRA has had with this tactic, they apparently have bigger plans in mind:  

A Sarasota-based group that grabbed national headlines when it put up several billboards in Florida proclaiming "Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican" says it will be doing it again.

This time the National Black Republican Association says it would like to put up 50 of the controversial billboards in Denver. The group wants the billboard to be up in time for the Democratic National Convention which is scheduled for August 25th - 28th.

Hmm … considering that the convention is now less than two weeks away, that seems like an expensive and almost impossible task.  But just to make sure, I called the advertising specialists at The Media Team in Denver to inquire about the cost and possibility of actually doing so.  

When I told them that I was interested in finding out the cost and availability of 50 billboards in Denver for the week of the convention, they literally laughed at me.  They then explained that the only things available at this late date would be Spanish language and low traffic billboards and, when I asked how much it would cost, hypothetically, to rent just one prime location billboard for the week of the convention, the estimate was $25,000, with the rates for other billboards ranging from $5,000 to $18,000 depending on location.  

So unless the NBRA has several hundred thousand dollars on hand – and a time machine that allows them to go back and make reservations for the billboards before they were all booked – it looks like this is just another self-aggrandizing boast designed to make it seem as if the NBRA has any influence at all.  

Right Says McCain Should Pick Ridge If He Wants To Lose

Just yesterday we were noting the Right’s repeated warnings to John McCain not to pick Mitt Romney as his running and their incessant clamoring for him to pick Mike Huckabee.  Now it looks like Huckabee himself is getting into the act:

"I think a lot of people, not just social conservatives, but a lot of the Republicans I know are not necessarily comfortable with Romney," Huckabee told CBSNews.com. "But it has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with inconsistencies in positions he's held, and that's it."

In our earlier post on this, we cited Tony Perkin’s advice that McCain needed to pick a running mate who is “strong where he is weak” and had a “record of delivering” on the issues that matter to the Right and speculated that McCain’s statement yesterday that he wasn’t ruling out the possibility of naming a pro-choice running mate, possibly Tom Ridge, was not going to go over well with the Right.

And it hasn’t:

But social-conservative leaders say a pro-choice nominee would cripple Mr. McCain politically with the Republican Party base.

"I think McCain has to have a running mate that clearly connects with social conservatives in the party," said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. "That is where he is lacking. So if he picks a pro-choice running mate, I don't see how he can win this race."

Asked whether social and religious conservatives would walk away from Mr. McCain if he picks Mr. Ridge or some other pro-choice running mate, Mr. Perkins said, "I'm not going to say people will stay home, but there is a core of voters whose level of enthusiasm influences people further from the core.

"So if McCain picks a pro-choice running mate, the strength of turnout on Election Day is not going to be there for him," Mr. Perkins said.

Considering that the Right’s support for McCain is tepid at best and hinges almost entirely on his choice of running-mate, McCain can hardly afford to pick someone like Ridge.  In fact, just last week, Richard Land told CBS that Ridge would be an unmitigated “catastrophe,” so it’s not as if McCain hasn’t been warned.

And just in case McCain needs any more advice on picking a running mate, Rick Santorum is there to give it to him:

If the Republican victory strategy is to disqualify Obama, McCain can't do anything that would disqualify himself in the minds of these less-than-ideological voters prepared to shift his way. As such, McCain's vice presidential pick has to be a nonevent, something of a yawner.

McCain needs someone who isn't going to upset the essential conservative base of the Republican Party, but will not raise red flags to moderates who have disqualified, or are ready to disqualify, Obama.

...

Better for John McCain to be safe than sorry.

How Many Pro-Hucakbee/Anti-Romney Efforts Do They Need?

Earlier today, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins participated in an on-line Q&A on The Washington Times’ website during which he set out the characteristics the Right is looking for in John McCain’s vice-presidential running mate.  His choice of words that the running mate “needs to be strong where he is weak” by having “have a record of delivering” on the issues that matter to the Right suggests that he, like so many others, is not particularly enthused about McCain:

Question: There has been a lot written about possible VP candidates for McCain that will be acceptable to the Christian value voters. Who are a few possibilities that you could see this coalition being comfortable with?

Answer: To date I have resisted the temptation to play the name game. Rather, I have focused on the qualities we would like to see in John McCain’s running mate. His running mate needs to be strong where he is weak, someone who is not reluctant to talk about the issues that remain top priority for most social conservatives; the sanctity of human life, the preservation of traditional marriage and the strengthening of the family. Not only must this person be able to communicate a concern and a commitment for these issues, they have to have a record of delivering on these and other issues.

So who would be a good choice?  Mike Hucakbee, of course:

Answer: There is no question in my mind that Mike Huckabee would raise the intensity level of support for John McCain, something the Senator really needs. I do have some policy differences with Mike, but we share a common view on most, if not all, of the social policy issues. I think he would compliment John McCain and I would be supportive of him as John McCain's running mate.

It seems that just about every right-wing activist currently supporting McCain wants him to pick Hucakbee and is warning him not to pick Mitt Romney.  In fact, as we reported yesterday, McCain is currently in Michigan meeting with former Huckabee supporters who are telling him the same thing yet again.  And just in case that message hasn’t yet sunk in, another group of Huckabee supporters in Ohio are starting groups all over the state in order to get the message out: 

Some Ohio social conservatives say they know whom they don't want John McCain to pick as his running mate: former Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney.

In a move that may say as much about their continuing uneasiness regarding McCain as it does about their mistrust of Romney, an alliance of Buckeye State social conservatives is trying to form a group: Social Conservatives Against Romney.

Although McCain is keeping his potential vice-presidential choices a tightly held secret, Romney is said to be on the short list.

"Christians are praying earnestly for the right person," said Diane Stover, a Parma resident who was a delegate for GOP candidate Mike Huckabee, a favorite of many social conservatives, in the Ohio primary. "McCain wouldn't have been our person. But we definitely feel like it would be a huge help to John McCain to pick someone we can be confident will represent the value-voter position. I don't think it helps him (McCain) at all in Ohio if he picks Romney."

Jane Maines of Hamilton, also a former Huckabee delegate, said the anti-Romney Ohioans hope their group will spread to other states.

Stover and Maines are among about a dozen activists who met near Cincinnati last week, with Stover participating via phone from the Cleveland area, to discuss how to launch the group.

"We're hoping this will become hugely widespread," Maines said.

Presumably, the fact that McCain is not ruling out the possibility of naming a pro-choice running mate is only going to displease the Right further:

IN A WIDE-RANGING INTERVIEW aboard his campaign plane this morning, John McCain said that he is open to choosing a pro-choice running mate and named former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge as someone who merits serious consideration despite his support for abortion rights. McCain also criticized Barack Obama's presidential campaign for attempts to "politicize" the debate over Georgia and criticized President Bush for failing to recognize the true nature of Vladimir Putin.

"I think that the pro-life position is one of the important aspects or fundamentals of the Republican Party," McCain said. "And I also feel that--and I'm not trying to equivocate here--that Americans want us to work together. You know, Tom Ridge is one of the great leaders and he happens to be pro-choice. And I don't think that that would necessarily rule Tom Ridge out."

Keyes Supporters Try to Throw McCain Off CA Ballot

While Alan Keyes is busy penning 11,000 word attacks against John McCain and his right-wing supporters, his own supporters in the American Independent Party are hard at work trying to get McCain tossed from the ballot in California:

A John McCain presidency would be illegal because the Arizona senator was not born in the United States, says a lawsuit filed this week by the American Independent Party.

The minor party says it wants McCain's name removed from ballots in California because federal law would bar the former Vietnam War POW from taking office were he to be elected in November, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

Article II of the U.S. Constitution disqualifies McCain from assuming office because he was born in the Commonwealth of Panama in 1936, while his father was stationed at Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone, the lawsuit contends.

The American Independent Party claims it will be "irreparably harmed by Senator McCain's illegal and illegitimate presence on the ballot." The plaintiffs in the case want McCain enjoined from running for president.

Also named in the lawsuit are the Republican National Committee and the California Republican Party. The lawsuit argues the GOP is engaging in "unfair competition" by putting forth an "illegitimate" presidential nominee.

"The harm sustained by being forced to compete against-and potentially be defeated by-and illegal and illegitimate campaign cannot be monetarily remedied nor can it be remedied after the November general election in any manner," the petition said.

The lawsuit was brought by Markham Robinson of Vacaville, Calif., chairman-elect of the American Independent Party. The AIP has nominated author Alan Keyes for president.

The Right’s Half-Hearted Support For McCain

Matt Taibbi, fresh off his time undercover at John Hagee’s church, returns to the pages of Rolling Stone to chronicle John McCain’s on-going struggle to win over the Christian Right. Taibbi tracked down Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel who was deeply involved in the July meeting in Colorado where a variety of right-wing heavy-hitter decided to finally  back McCain because they basically had no other option and then issued their own “Declaration of American Values” which, Staver tells Taibbi, they want to make clear was not a declaration of support for McCain:

It's McCain's newfound status as the lesser of two evils that recently won him a previously unthinkable triumph — the pledged support of more than 100 Christian groups who met in Denver on July 1st to create a so-called "Declaration of American Values." Organized by Mat Staver, chairman of the fundamentalist group Liberty Counsel, the declaration was an attempt to reunite a Christian right that, as Staver tells me, had suffered "through a fractious primary season. There were a lot of hurt feelings." The group — which included notables on the religious right like Phyllis Schlafly and Tim Lahaye — settled on a list of 10 basic principles, including the perennial sanctity of life and anti-gay-marriage stuff, as well as some weirder and less biblically obvious demands supporting unfettered gun ownership and opposing taxation "of a progressive nature."

And while the group came out in support of McCain, Staver is anxious that this not be interpreted as a broad expression of enthusiasm by the Christian right. "Uh, the media somewhat didn't accurately report that," he says with obvious fright in his voice. "This wasn't a Declaration of American Values in support of John McCain. This was a statement of support for those core values." It was agreed, Staver clarifies, that supporting McCain in this election was merely the best choice for the "short term." And the reason for that, he says, is that the election of Barack Obama would "decimate American values." From there, Staver is off and running about Obama's record on abortion rights and gay marriage, and how generally an Obama election would bring about the end of civilization; he said almost nothing about McCain.

This is a point Staver seems eager to get across, as he told the same thing to Dan Gilgoff back in July, explaining that their support for McCain was done out of political necessity and is aimed at asserting their influence within the Republican Party in order to try and prevent this sort of situation in the future: 

Last week's decision by nearly 100 conservative Christian activists meeting in Denver to coalesce around presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain was a major coup for a candidate whose relationship with the Christian Right has been famously stormy. But the Denver meeting's organizer, Mathew Staver--founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law--says the activists' new unity around McCain should not be taken as evidence of a stepped-up religious outreach effort by the Arizona senator, or as a sign that evangelicals are warming to him personally.

In fact, Staver said in an interview yesterday that much of the Denver meeting was focused on building a long-term strategy for the Christian Right to avoid getting stuck with another figure like McCain.

Taibbi also relates this anecdote, which suggests either that James Dobson has changed his mind once again on whether he’ll support McCain or that his spokesman can’t keep track of his waffling:

As a result, the most influential leaders on the Christian right are keeping their distance. "Uh, no," says a spokesman for Focus on the Family, when I ask if Dobson has changed his mind about McCain, even with Obama on the ticket. "He hasn't changed his mind. No way."

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Republican Party Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 06/29/2010, 10:24am
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Kyle Mantyla, Monday 06/28/2010, 9:26am
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Kyle Mantyla, Friday 06/25/2010, 4:47pm
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Kyle Mantyla, Monday 06/14/2010, 4:39pm
Religion Dispatches: Generation Joshua, a program run by homeschooling advocates, aims to get young people working to "help America return to her Judeo-Christian foundations." Political Correction: Steve King: Obama Favors The "Black Person" By Default. Warren Throckmorton: Lou Engle expressed support for Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill – Guest Post by Jeff Sharlet. Sarah Posner: The Duggars To Headline Values Voters Summit. TPM: Alabama Tea Partier Defends 'Gather Your Armies' TV Ad. Ed Brayton: Christian ministry... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 06/14/2010, 8:55am
It was just last October that former Texas Eagle Forum President Cathie Adams was elected Chair of the Texas Republican Party. On Saturday, less than eight months after taking office, Adams was ousted: The state Republican Party ousted a longtime social conservative leader and instead elected Houston lawyer Steve Munisteri as its new party chairman Saturday, after a rare floor fight. Munisteri capitalized on concerns over party financial problems and the lack of grass-roots organizing to overtake Cathie Adams of Dallas, who has held the post for the last eight months. Munisteri, 52, took... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 06/11/2010, 4:15pm
While I appreciate the risk some Religious Right leaders are taking in supporting immigration reform legislation, it would be nice if they were at least willing to admit where the problem lies:   Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land and other evangelicals called for Congress and President Obama to set aside partisanship and special interests to resolve the controversy and problems of illegal immigration. The immigration crisis "is fanning the flames of hostility and animosity and distrust between various elements in our society, and it is time for our representatives in... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 06/11/2010, 1:15pm
For years, Cathie Adams has been the President of the Texas affiliate of Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, until she was elected Chair of the state Republican Party last year. So I guess it should come as no surprise that Gov. Rick Perry would attend a Texas Eagle Forum event at which Don McLeroy received a "Patriot Award" for his efforts to remake the state's textbooks and curriculum ... or that Perry would use his appearance to demand to know whether voters worship government or God:  Gov. Rick Perry painted the upcoming election as a religious crusade to take back the... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 06/11/2010, 11:59am
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is, predictably, getting hammered from social conservatives for his statement that the next president will have to call a "truce" in the culture war in order to focus on economic issues. He has already been blasted by Concerned Women for America and the Family Research Council and right-wing activists continue to pile on: Others, like Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute and an early supporter of 2008 presidential hopeful John McCain, says Daniels will have a hard time winning the GOP nomination if he demurs on pro-... MORE >