Dennis Baxley

Romney's Faith Leaders Rip Gingrich's 'Despicable Behavior'

On Wednesday, Newt Gingrich held a conference call with faith leaders during which he declared that the push for marriage equality is an example of "the rise of paganism" while his supporters warned that failure to elect Gingrich would quite literally spell the end of America and Western Civilization.

On Thursday, the Mitt Romney campaign held its own conference call with its own faith leaders who ripped Gingrich for his arrogance, recklessness, and "despicable behavior":

The Mitt Romney campaign held a conference call this morning with social conservative Republicans in Florida, touting the former Massachusetts governor's integrity and values and contrasting him to Newt Gingrich. Leading the call were Pastor David Janney of Orlando Baptist Church, the largest church in Orlando, former U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon of Indialantic, and Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice and a prominent advocate for religious freedom.

Pastor Janney said he's watched Romney being vetted and noted his marriage of 42 years, five children and 16 grandchildren: "When I look at his life I'm not concerned about being embarrassed or distracted by his personal issues."

Weldon said he was one of the members of congress who tried to oust Gingrich as U.S. House Speaker. "With Newt it was kind of like every day we didn't know what he was gonna say, we didn't know what he was going to be doing, he was just a little bit unpredictable," Weldon said. "It worries me the idea of him being in the oval office."

...

State Rep. Dennis Baxley, former leader of the Christian Coalition of Florida, also spoke on the call, saying Romney "shares our Christian values and will protect our religious freedom."

"When your choosing a leader it's about integrity. The hardest thing to maintain in any leader is those essential qualities of humility and purity. ... I'm very concerned about Newt Gingrich on that front." Baxley called Gingrich "very arrogant on his moral failure - calling the press despicable for covering him instead of humbly seeking the forgiveness of his former wife and others for his own despicable behavior."

FL Christian Coalition Leader Who Worried About Obama's "Muslim Roots" Running For Office

Are you familiar with the name Dennis Baxley?  He's a former Florida legislator who took over the Florida Christian Coalition in 2008, a position he held until last summer when he resigned to promote Republican Senate hopeful Marco Rubio's campaign.  Back in 2008, Baxley made news for saying that Barack Obama's "Muslim roots and training" were "pretty scary" to everyday Christians.

Well, he's decided to make his try and get his old seat back in the state legislature:

Former Florida Christian Coalition leader Dennis Baxley confirmed he is running for re-election to the state House.

Baxley, a conservative Republican from Ocala, served in the state House from 2000-2008 and as the executive director of the Christian Coalition until May.

The funeral director raised eyebrows prior to the presidential election when he told The Miami Herald how he and other Christians perceived then-candidate Barack Obama: “He’s pretty scary to us.”

Baxley is running for his old District 24 seat because incumbent Rep. Kurt Kelly has jumped into the race against incumbent U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, a liberal Democrat who defeated a four-term incumbent Republican in his election to Congress last year.

For the record, Baxley did more than raise eyebrows when he said Obama was scary ... mainly because he said a lot more than that:

Here's what Dennis Baxley, a former state legislator from Ocala and the executive director of the Christian Coalition of Florida, one of the most prominent groups on the religious right, said during an interview with the Miami Herald about Obama's outreach to the Christian community:

"He's pretty scary to us,'' he said. "I think his Muslim roots and training -- while they try to minimize it -- it's there."

Asked what he meant, Baxley pointed to Obama's childhood stint in Indonesia and his Muslim relatives.

"That concerns me particularly in the period of history we are living in, when there's an active movement by radical Muslims to occupy us,'' Baxley said of Obama's background. "That whole way of life is all about submission. It concerns me that someone rooted in those beginnings, how it might have affected their outlook. That's what scary for me."

Baxley on Obama's trip to Europe: "I think you can tell from his appeal and how a lot of the media emphasized how loved he is in other places. I'm very concerned that our own American values rooted in Christian principles be protected. It's fine with me if he wants to run for chancellor of Germany or chief of the European union, but not for president of the United States. I'm concerned about someone who has those global priorities. I just want someone who will take those responsibilities of preserving American values and American culture and not try to make us citizens of the world."

On Obama's description of himself as a devout Christian: "I don't want to pass judgment. I take him at face value. I do look at his story and where he's been, and the influence of the Rev. Wright-type of Christianity, and I'm not sure that's what I relate to...He wants to tax the rich more and redistribute wealth to other people -- where I come from that's socialism. Karl Marx was not a Christian."

Asked if he speaks in public about Obama's "Muslim roots'': "I really don't talk about candidates. I talk about issues. My greatest challenge is not Obama, it's apathy. I'm trying to get values voters to rise out of their apathy and participate...I can't speak for anyone else but I'm probably typical of all of the people who are suspect of those Muslim roots. We all know what early intervention with children is all about, and I am really wondering what the influence was on him from his father's background and being in a Muslim country. I'm not cooking up some plot about Muslims trying to inject a leader into our country but I am wondering how it influences his thinking."

Correction: Originally, I stated that Baxley was running for Congress, when he is actually running for a seat in the state legislature. I've updated the post to correct that mistake.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • The Club for Growth has nominated Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for its Comrade of the Month Award for May. It's not meant as a compliment.
  • Speaking of Crist, Dennis Baxley has resigned his position as executive director of the Christian Coalition of Florida in order to work full-time in promoting Marco Rubio, Crist's Republican primary opponent.
  • Promise Keepers is expanding its mission: "This event is going to honor women ... We’re going to honor the poor, the oppressed, and the needy. We’re going to honor the believing Jew."
  • Texas Governor Rick Perry has put his name on a fundraising letter for Grover Norquist's anti-tax group, Americans for Tax Reform, denouncing "an over-reaching liberal federal government."
  • Finally, Religion News Service reports that anti-marriage activists see ballot as their last hope for stopping the spread of marriage equality:
  • "The integrity of our most fundamental institutions is in question and needs to be in question," says Mike Heath, executive director of the Maine Family Policy Council, an evangelical Christian lobbying group.

    "I see our institutions as having become openly hostile (to religious views). They're responsive to the elite and moneyed interests that dominate our statehouse. ... The only hope here is the people."

Welcome Back, Christian Coalition

The Christian Coalition has had its share of problems in recent years. Ever since Ralph Reed left, the Coalition has been in a freefall, watching as state chapters sever their ties with the national organization and then start suing each other and then trying to hire a new president to turn everythying around, only to have him resign before ever taking office because they are unwilling to consider broadening their agenda.

It was into this chaos that Dennis Baxley stepped when he took over the Christian Coalition of Florida earlier this year, seemingly fully aware of the organization’s increasing irrelevance:

Until the Christian Coalition shows again that its endorsed candidates can win major offices, Baxley said, its influence will be negligible.

"Is anyone going to care what grade they get from the Christian Coalition?" Baxley asked. 

But Baxley has been working hard to turn that around and got off to a good start by getting Mike Huckabee to headline their God and Country Gala back in July.  And now it looks like Baxley is doing his part to recapture some of the Coalition’s former glory by experimenting with the Right’s standard means of generating coverage for itself: saying stupid things in the press

Here's what Dennis Baxley, a former state legislator from Ocala and the executive director of the Christian Coalition of Florida, one of the most prominent groups on the religious right, said during an interview with the Miami Herald about Obama's outreach to the Christian community:

"He's pretty scary to us,'' he said. "I think his Muslim roots and training -- while they try to minimize it -- it's there."

Asked what he meant, Baxley pointed to Obama's childhood stint in Indonesia and his Muslim relatives.

"That concerns me particularly in the period of history we are living in, when there's an active movement by radical Muslims to occupy us,'' Baxley said of Obama's background. "That whole way of life is all about submission. It concerns me that someone rooted in those beginnings, how it might have affected their outlook. That's what scary for me."

Baxley on Obama's trip to Europe: "I think you can tell from his appeal and how a lot of the media emphasized how loved he is in other places. I'm very concerned that our own American values rooted in Christian principles be protected. It's fine with me if he wants to run for chancellor of Germany or chief of the European union, but not for president of the United States. I'm concerned about someone who has those global priorities. I just want someone who will take those responsibilities of preserving American values and American culture and not try to make us citizens of the world."

On Obama's description of himself as a devout Christian: "I don't want to pass judgment. I take him at face value. I do look at his story and where he's been, and the influence of the Rev. Wright-type of Christianity, and I'm not sure that's what I relate to...He wants to tax the rich more and redistribute wealth to other people -- where I come from that's socialism. Karl Marx was not a Christian."

Asked if he speaks in public about Obama's "Muslim roots'': "I really don't talk about candidates. I talk about issues. My greatest challenge is not Obama, it's apathy. I'm trying to get values voters to rise out of their apathy and participate...I can't speak for anyone else but I'm probably typical of all of the people who are suspect of those Muslim roots. We all know what early intervention with children is all about, and I am really wondering what the influence was on him from his father's background and being in a Muslim country. I'm not cooking up some plot about Muslims trying to inject a leader into our country but I am wondering how it influences his thinking."

Romney Picks Up Where He Left Off

In the early going, before the entrance of Fred Thompson and the rise of Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney set out to be the preferred candidate of the Religious Right.  And he was well positioned to do so, since Rudy Giuliani and John McCain were (and are) widely reviled by the Religious Right establishment and their supporters.  

Back then, Romney was hard at work meeting with Jerry Falwell and others, hobnobbing with right-wing leaders at their events, and buying victories in conservative straw polls.  But then Fred Thompson appeared on the scene and began siphoning off potential right-wing supporters while Mike Huckabee staked his claim as the most religious candidate in the field on his way to winning the support of a wide-range of Religious Right leaders.  

Through it all, Romney plodded along, picking up a handful of right-wing backer here and there, but the pickings were slim.  But now, with Thompson out of the race, it looks like things might be turning around for his campaign:

Joining Romney for President after having served as National Co-Chair of Lawyers for Fred Thompson, Victoria Toensing said, "Appointing strong judges is one of our President's most important responsibilities. The next President will make a number of appointments, and I am confident Governor Romney will nominate judges in the mold of President Bush's nominees, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. I am proud to work with Governor Romney and this outstanding group of legal minds."

Also joining the Advisory committee from Lawyers for Fred Thompson are Lizette D. Benedi, Rachel L. Brand, Reginald Brown, Charles J. Cooper, Joseph E. diGenova, Michael R. Dimino, Viet D. Dinh, Noel J. Francisco and Eileen J. O'Connor.

And with Huckabee’s campaign slowly collapsing due to lack of funds, Romney is able to starting picking up the support of right-wing leaders once again

Dennis Baxley, David Caton, Carole Griffin and Anthony Verdugo, representing over fifty years of combined pro-family leadership in Florida, support Mitt Romney in the Florida Presidential Preference Primary.

Mitt Romney is clearly the most conservative candidate among the top three competitive candidates (Giuliani, McCain, Romney) appearing on the Florida Presidential Preference ballot in Florida.

Dennis Baxley is the incoming Executive Director for Christian Coalition of Florida and former Florida State Representative for District 24.

David Caton is the Executive Director of Florida Family Association.

Carole Griffin is a pro-family lobbyist in Tallahassee and heads the Eagle Forum in Florida.

Anthony Verdugo is the president of Christian Family Coalition.

So, with the field thinning, things are starting to look up for Romney, at least as far as being the Republican candidate most willing and able to pander to the Right is concerned.

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Dennis Baxley Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Friday 01/27/2012, 12:55pm
On Wednesday, Newt Gingrich held a conference call with faith leaders during which he declared that the push for marriage equality is an example of "the rise of paganism" while his supporters warned that failure to elect Gingrich would quite literally spell the end of America and Western Civilization. On Thursday, the Mitt Romney campaign held its own conference call with its own faith leaders who ripped Gingrich for his arrogance, recklessness, and "despicable behavior": The Mitt Romney campaign held a conference call this morning with social conservative... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 01/06/2010, 4:50pm
Are you familiar with the name Dennis Baxley?  He's a former Florida legislator who took over the Florida Christian Coalition in 2008, a position he held until last summer when he resigned to promote Republican Senate hopeful Marco Rubio's campaign.  Back in 2008, Baxley made news for saying that Barack Obama's "Muslim roots and training" were "pretty scary" to everyday Christians. Well, he's decided to make his try and get his old seat back in the state legislature: Former Florida Christian Coalition leader Dennis Baxley confirmed he is running for re-election... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 06/09/2009, 6:09pm
The Club for Growth has nominated Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for its Comrade of the Month Award for May. It's not meant as a compliment.Speaking of Crist, Dennis Baxley has resigned his position as executive director of the Christian Coalition of Florida in order to work full-time in promoting Marco Rubio, Crist's Republican primary opponent.Promise Keepers is expanding its mission: "This event is going to honor women ... We’re going to honor the poor, the oppressed, and the needy. We’re going to honor the believing Jew."Texas Governor Rick Perry has put his name on... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 09/11/2008, 12:17pm
The Christian Coalition has had its share of problems in recent years. Ever since Ralph Reed left, the Coalition has been in a freefall, watching as state chapters sever their ties with the national organization and then start suing each other and then trying to hire a new president to turn everythying around, only to have him resign before ever taking office because they are unwilling to consider broadening their agenda. It was into this chaos that Dennis Baxley stepped when he took over the Christian Coalition of Florida earlier this year, seemingly fully aware of the... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 01/24/2008, 6:02pm
In the early going, before the entrance of Fred Thompson and the rise of Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney set out to be the preferred candidate of the Religious Right.  And he was well positioned to do so, since Rudy Giuliani and John McCain were (and are) widely reviled by the Religious Right establishment and their supporters.   Back then, Romney was hard at work meeting with Jerry Falwell and others, hobnobbing with right-wing leaders at their events, and buying victories in conservative straw polls.  But then Fred Thompson appeared on the scene and began siphoning off... MORE >