Mitt Romney

Perkins’ Prediction Comes True and Creates a New Dilemma

Heading into the recent Values Voter Summit, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins was careful to make clear that it was unlikely that any one candidate would emerge from the event as the Right’s candidate of choice, thus rescuing them from their current dilemma and confusion.   But he also predicted that the event would at least help narrow down the field a bit:  

“These are the influencers, these are the talkers,” Perkins said of the attendees that will take over the Washington Hilton hotel. “This could be when things start to shake out and a candidate begins to emerge with a certain level of support. I don’t think anybody’s going to walk away with a lock, but maybe one or two candidates, maybe three, will begin to take off with strong support from the base.”

The one candidate who got the biggest boost from the Summit was Mike Huckabee, who came in second place in the straw poll and was the overwhelming favorite among those in attendance – something which, oddly enough, only seems to have confused things further:

The influential social conservatives who comprise the Arlington Group met over the weekend to discuss the possibility of endorsing a presidential candidate and could not reach a consensus, according to a source familiar with the process.

Though leaders of the individual organizations may make their own endorsements, those selections "cannot be considered a blanket endorsement by the 'Religious Right,'" according to the source.

While many leaders want to endorse fan favorite Mike Huckabee, others are more hesitant. The source informed me that "the dilemma is over whether to choose the preferred candidate of their constituents or go with the pragmatic choice and risk offending our base."

According to the source, James Dobson of Focus on the Family likes Mitt Romney, Gary Bauer of American Values prefers Fred Thompson, and Don Wildmon of the American Family Association likes Huckabee. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is still on the fence, but nearing a decision.

In fact, very little has changed:  Supporting McCain or Giuliani was never much of a possibility and the right-wing leadership has always been torn between Romney, Thompson, and, to a lesser extent, Huckabee.  The only new development is that some are becoming more willing to openly back Huckabee:

He Ain't Fringy, He's My Brother

No doubt there were a handful of people scattered among the audience at the Values Voter Summit who supported Alan Keyes for president, or were at least aware that he is a candidate, so it must have ruffled one or two feathers when the M.C. boasted several times that “all 9 major Republican candidates” were speaking. Third-time GOP presidential candidate Keyes, who has appeared at two debates which the frontrunners skipped, was not invited.

Most of Keyes’s erstwhile friends have been silent, but one man has spoken out: Gordon Klingenschmitt, a.k.a. “Chaps,” the discharged Navy chaplain who has gone on tour with Keyes on Rick Scarborough’s “70 Weeks to Save America,” claiming that he was prohibited him from praying in the name of Jesus (though in reality he was discharged for violating rules against wearing his uniform at political or partisan events). “Some of you know I've endorsed Ambassador Alan Keyes for president, because I believe he's the most Christ-like candidate we have in the Republican primary,” Klingenschmitt writes.

Alan bears the political scars to prove his deep commitment to the cause of righteousness and freedom in America. Nobody can dispute his decades-long sacrifice of personal fortune and reputation to fight tirelessly beside pro-life protestors, pro-marriage families, Minutemen border guards, Ten-Commandments judges, tax-cut conservatives, strict Constitutionalists and, yes, chaplains who pray in Jesus' name.

So why did the Family Research Council, or FRC, intentionally exclude Alan Keyes from their "open invitation to all candidates, even Democrats" event this weekend in Washington, D.C.? While giving the prime-time speaking slot to Mitt Romney, FRC not only excluded Alan Keyes from the speaker's podium, even after repeated requests to include him, they didn't even list him as a choice in their straw poll. …

Was Alan's schedule already booked? No, he flew across the country from California to Washington ready to speak at FRC anytime this weekend.

Dobson Drama and Prayers for a Political Miracle in 08

The Saturday gala honoring Focus on the Family founder James Dobson started with a hint at the controversy over the announcement of Mitt Romney as the straw poll’s winner. Only the overall results had been announced to attendees earlier in the day. It was at a subsequent news conference that FRC distributed documents making clear that Huckabee won by a large margin among people who voted in person, and in the hours since Huckabee partisans were grumbling. FRC’s Chuck Donovan promised that everyone would get a detailed vote accounting as they left the event. When Dobson took the stage he claimed that the media had been telling everybody that the pro-family and pro-life movements are dying, and to the media still in attendance, said, “Welcome to the morgue.” Dobson also complained about media reports of a closed-door meeting of conservative religious leaders at which Dobson and more than 40 others pledged that if neither party nominated a pro-life candidate they would vote for a minor party candidate, kicking off weeks of controversy and infighting. Dobson said reports that the group would try to create a third party were wrong, saying he agrees with Gary Bauer that a third-party would be political suicide and would limit the ability to influence the GOP.

Contested Vote Count: Romney v Huckabee

Immediately after Tony Perkins announced the result of the FRC Action straw poll, in which Mitt Romney edged Mike Huckabee by 30 votes out of 5,775 cast, Huckabee boosters cried foul – and reporters peppered Perkins with questions about the legitimacy of the poll. Turns out that Huckabee won a majority of the votes cast in person at the Values Voter Summit, 51 percent, and Romney only took 10 percent. Some unknown number of votes were cast online by people who also attended. But other votes were cast anytime online between August and Saturday. That’s how Ron Paul showed up in third place with 865 votes even though he was picked by only 25 in-person voters. Huckabee’s clear victory in the in-person vote wasn’t much of a surprise if you experienced the rapturous reception Huckabee received on Saturday morning. Huckabee’s speech was non-stop Religious Right prime red meat and he had people cheering and hollering throughout.

Memo to <em>Time</em>: The Far Right Knows the Supreme Court Matters

Talk about bad timing! Time magazine's cover story telling Americans the Supreme Court isn't relevant to their lives appeared the very same week that every major Republican presidential candidate will appear before the right-wing leaders at the so-called "Values Voter Summit" and pledge more Supreme Court justices in the Roberts-Alito-Scalia-Thomas mold.

The premise of the article is dead wrong, as People For the American Way Foundation's Legal Director Judith E. Schaeffer made clear in her response. The Court's decisions have a huge impact on Americans' rights and liberties - and their ability to count on the courts to uphold the protections guaranteed by our Constitution. That's especially true when the President asserts his ability to ignore those protections and has too often bullied Congress into going along.

Not only is the Roberts Court creating new legal hurdles that will keep people hurt by corporate or government wrongdoing from seeking justice in the federal courts, it is tripping down the ideological path cleared by the Federalist Society to reverse many of the legal and social justice gains of the past few decades and erode Americans' legal rights and protections.

The radical right is thrilled that Bush's nominees - Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito - have joined the Court's far-right voting bloc anchored by Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. And they're keenly focused on the impact that the next president will have as additional vacancies likely occur. They see 2008 as their chance to cement a reactionary Court in place for a generation.

That's why the GOP presidential candidates are going out of their way to prove their right-wing credentials regarding the Court.

Pastor: Vote for a Christian, Not Romney

It looks as if Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress isn’t about to be won over by Religious Right efforts to rally behind Mitt Romney, at least according to the Dallas Morning News:

A prominent Dallas minister told his congregation that if they wanted to elect a Christian to the White House, Republican Mitt Romney wasn't qualified.

Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, said that Mormonism is a false religion and that Mr. Romney was not a Christian.

"Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise," Dr. Jeffress said in a sermon Sept. 30. "Even though he talks about Jesus as his Lord and savior, he is not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. Mormonism is a cult."

But Dr. Jeffress said colleagues who support Mr. Romney should not confuse morality with Christianity.

"I have conservative friends who are saying, well, he believes in Jesus, we believe in Jesus, let's just hold hands and sing kumbaya," he said. "It doesn't work that way. If a person is supporting Romney, that's fine. But don't confuse him with being a Christian."

Dr. Jeffress also said Christian conservatives were compromising the values used to back presidential candidates over the past decade.

"It's a little hypocritical for the last eight years to be talking about how important it is for us to elect a Christian president and then turn around and endorse a non-Christian," he said. "Christian conservatives are going to have to decide whether having a Christian president is really important or not." 

Playing the Racist Card, Again

It seems as if Gary Marx has managed to pull himself away from his $8,000-a-month position with Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign to pen an action alert in his capacity as Executive Director of the Judicial Confirmation Network to urge supporters to contact their senators and demand a vote on the nomination of Leslie Southwick:

The Liberal Left led by Senator Ted Kennedy, Minority Leader Harry Reid, and People for the American Way will stop at nothing in order to keep common sense constitutionalist judges like Leslie Southwick off the bench. Ultimately, their unprecedented judicial filibusters are a backdoor political sabotage to manipulate the Senate rules. Their goal is to create a radical new precedent where for the first time in history a future Supreme Court nominee like Justice Roberts or Alito will be forced to receive 60 votes for confirmation rather than a simple and fair majority vote.

The vote on whether to filibuster Judge Southwick is likely to occur this week ... possibly as early as Wednesday. This is our last chance to make our voice heard. The time to call your Senators' offices is today!

Marx then encourages activists to take the time to read an op-ed penned by his partner at the JCN, Wendy Long - who, like Marx, serves on Romney’s National Faith and Values Steering Committee – in which she trots out the Right’s standard claim that those who raise concerns about Southwick’s judicial record and philosophy are really just calling Southwick a racist:

Just when you thought "white male in the South" didn't equal "presumptive racist," a disgusting spectacle with that familiar theme is unfolding in the United States Senate.

[Senator Richard] Durbin is doing essentially what [Duke Prosecutor Mike] Nifong and [Al] Sharpton did: attacking someone else as a racist in order to advance his own political agenda. Never mind the facts, never mind the law, just play the race card against a white man in the south and you know you have a good chance to bring him down.

It seems that whenever anyone dares to oppose any of President Bush’s judicial nominees, the Right sees some nefarious ulterior motive at work – and that is how they manage to convince themselves that opposition to Southwick stems not from concerns about his record but from some sort of deep-seeded hatred of Southern white males … the same way they said opposition to Miguel Estrada was really due to anti-Latino prejudice … and opposition to Priscilla Owen was the result of flagrant anti-woman bias … and opposition to William Pryor was actually due to anti-Catholic bigotry … and opposition to Janice Rogers Brown was in actuality rooted in racism.    

Backing Romney By Default

Mark DeMoss, a conservative Christian publicist, is generating a lot of news with his open letter sent to some 150 right-wing leaders urging them to rally behind Mitt Romney for the sole purpose of denying Rudy Giuliani the Republican presidential nomination.  

DeMoss has been a supporter of Romney for months, organizing a meeting between the candidate and various right-wing leaders, and serving as a member of his Faith and Values Steering Committee.   Given all the talk lately of right-wing leaders and activists bolting the GOP should Giuliani win the nomination, DeMoss apparently sensed an opportunity to pitch his candidate to the disenchanted and urge them to back Romney not only because he shares their values but, most importantly, to prevent Giuliani from winning:  

As certain as it seems that Hillary will represent the Democratic Party, it now appears the GOP representative will be either Mayor Rudy Giuliani or Governor Mitt Romney (based on polls in early states, money raised and on hand, staff and organization, etc.). And, if it is not Mitt Romney, we would, for the first time in my memory, be faced with a general election contest between two “pro-choice” candidates.

And you don’t just have to take DeMoss’s word that Romney is the real deal – apparently even Jerry Falwell would have supported him, had he not died:

Just about six months before his death, Jerry accepted my invitation to a meeting with Gov. Romney at his home outside Boston. He joined me, and about 15 other evangelicals, for an intimate discussion with the Governor and his wife Ann. Jerry was one of several that day who said, “Governor, I don’t have a problem with your being Mormon, but I want to ask you how you would deal with Islamic jihadists…or with illegal immigration…or how you would choose justices for the Supreme Court…,” and so on.

While Jerry Falwell never told me how he intended to vote in the upcoming election, I think I know how he would not have voted. I also know he would not have “sat this one out” and given up on the Supreme Court for a generation.

Aside from assuring his right-wing allies that Romney is everything they are looking for, the focus of his the letter is on capitalizing on the Right’s antipathy toward, and fear of, Giuliani : 

Currently, conservatives (whether evangelical or not) are dividing their support among several candidates. In the long run, this only helps Rudy Giuliani, who clearly does not share our values on so many issues … Talk of a possible third party candidate draft movement only helps Giuliani (or, worse yet, Clinton), in my view. While I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. James Dobson that not having a pro-life nominee of either major party presents an unacceptable predicament, I would rather work hard to ensure we do nominate a pro-life candidate than to launch an 11th-hour third party campaign. Mike Huckabee affirmed this concern when he told the Washington Post last week, “I think a third party only helps elect Hillary Clinton.”

“Hey, you hate Giuliani and are unimpressed by everyone else, so why not back Romney?” seems to be DeMoss’s message – one that, for a lot of panicked right-wing leaders, just might be a lifesaver, since they have placed themselves in a situation where they are faced with the unpleasant prospect of having to abandon the GOP all together. 

FRC's Perkins Suggests Romney Better Than Huckabee on Religious-Right Issues

In a press call this morning, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins downplayed recent talk about religious-right leaders threatening to bolt the GOP for a third-party presidential candidate. Perkins, promoting FRC’s Values Voter Summit in Washington next weekend, said he was “optimistic” that the GOP field would “solidify” and a candidate acceptable to the Right would emerge out of the conference’s straw poll.

Rudy Giuliani’s decision to participate in the FRC event threatens to deflate this optimism, however. If Giuliani gets significant support from among the FRC members participating in the straw poll—as he has from among the national constituency these leaders claims to represent—then the threats by James Dobson and others to spoil the election could fall flat. “I’m not saying he won’t get some social conservative support,” cautioned Perkins, “but some social conservative support is not enough to win.” Despite Perkins’ claim that Giuliani will receive a “cordial” reception, we can expect many speakers—not just other candidates—to directly or indirectly attack, in Perkins’ phrase, “the pro-abortion rights candidate.”

And while some right-wing activists are hoping that the Religious Right will coalesce around one of their second-tier favorites—such as Mike Huckabee—Perkins seemed to downplay that option, panning them as unacceptable to economic- and foreign policy-oriented Republicans. In fact, Perkins spoke glowingly of Mitt Romney, saying that “in my opinion, [he’s] the strongest on these core social issues”—and not only that, but his “conversion” on wedge issues has been “genuine.” In fact, Perkins said Romney is stronger than Huckabee and the others on such issues.

During the campaign cycle, he has made these issues more front-and-center in his message than I think other candidates who are social conservatives have, I mean that have a track record of social conservatism. I think he has staked out ground on these issues so much so that he would have a very difficult time ever backing away from them; he would lose all credibility. He has really brought emphasis to these issues. And I do think, yes, more than Mike Huckabee and some of the others.

Meanwhile, Alan Keyes can’t get no respect. Despite his wide-open schedule, he’s not on the list of speakers at the Values Voter Summit; nevertheless, FRC’s Charmaine Yoest declared that “we have all of the major GOP candidates.”

Dobson Says Jump, GOP Says How High

It took awhile, but every one of the four leading Republican presidential hopefuls who skipped the “Values Voter Debate” in Florida have now agreed to attend the upcoming “Values Voter Summit” in Washington, DC being sponsored by the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, American Values, and others. 

In early September, Mitt Romney agreed to attend and, a short while later, so did John McCain.   Fred Thompson held off – at least until a message from James Dobson blasting him as unacceptable to the Religious Right made its way into the press, and then the Thompson campaign suddenly got the message and quickly agreed to attend as well.  

Still, a few weeks went by with Rudy Giuliani being the only candidate refusing to attend – until again Dobson and his right-wing allies lashed out, announcing that they would consider abandoning the Republican Party if Giuliani gets the nomination, with Dobson taking to the pages of the New York Times to explain that “If neither of the two major political parties nominates an individual who pledges himself or herself to the sanctity of human life, we will join others in voting for a minor-party candidate.”

And guess what happened? 

Giuliani has now announced that he too will be attending the FRC/FOF event. 

It is quite a testament to the influence of James Dobson that despite having publicly savaged McCain, Giuliani, and Thompson, these candidates are tripping over themselves to attend an event that is scheduled to culminate with a “Family, Faith and Freedom Gala Dinner Honoring Dr. James Dobson.”   

Dobson Claims Unity

James Dobson has decided to publicly weigh in on the reports that various right-wing leaders are considering abandoning the Republican Party should Rudy Giuliani win the presidential nomination with an op-ed in the New York Times:

After two hours of deliberation, we voted on a resolution that can be summarized as follows: If neither of the two major political parties nominates an individual who pledges himself or herself to the sanctity of human life, we will join others in voting for a minor-party candidate. Those agreeing with the proposition were invited to stand. The result was almost unanimous.

Dobson goes on to explain that they are not willing to compromise their anti-choice, anti-gay principles in order to ensure electoral success for the Republican Party and that “winning the presidential election is vitally important, but not at the expense of what we hold most dear.”

But the main reason Dobson penned this op-ed was to dampen reports that the Right is in disarray leading into the 2008 election:

One other clarification is germane, even though unrelated to the meeting in Salt Lake City. The secular news media has been reporting in recent months that the conservative Christian movement is hopelessly fractured and internally antagonistic. The Los Angeles Times reported on Monday, for example, that supporters of traditional family values are rapidly “splintering.” That is not true. The near unanimity in Salt Lake City is evidence of much greater harmony than supposed. Admittedly, differences of opinion exist among us about our choices for president.

That divergence is entirely reasonable, now just over a year before the national election. It is hardly indicative of a “splintering” of old alliances. If the major political parties decide to abandon conservative principles, the cohesion of pro-family advocates will be all too apparent in 2008.

It is true that many - but not all - “supporters of traditional family values,” as Dobson refers to his right-wing allies, are of the same mind when it comes to opposition to a Giuliani nomination, but beyond that, they are all over the place

Giuliani Strikes Back

Faced with mounds of press coverage stemming from speculation that various right-wing leaders would abandon the Republican Party should Rudy Giuliani win the presidential nomination, things are looking a little grim for his chances:

“You have a whole group of evangelical Christians who will not support him,” said Paul Weyrich, a member of the Arlington Group, in reference to Giuliani. “Absolutely will not.

“I will not back Giuliani,” he added.

Weyrich, a founder of the modern social conservative movement and chairman of the Free Congress Foundation, predicted that in the general election many values-driven Republican voters would stay home if Giuliani is the nominee.

Another conservative leader, Mike Farris, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association, also voiced opposition to Giuliani.

“Giuliani can’t win,” he said. “There are millions of people including me who will not vote for him.”

The Giuliani campaign apparently doesn’t buy these claims and has struck back with a memo of its own based on a recent Gallup poll that shows that he “does no worse than tie for first in each of a number of key Republican demographic groups.”  

As the Giuliani memo puts it:

Primary elections usually set up contrasts. An interesting component of the race is that no candidate has clearly positioned themselves as the social conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. Fred Thompson entered the race expecting to take the position as the primary social conservative alternative to Romney, but Mike Huckabee has also impressed many primary voters and there is no clear social conservative favorite.

Most notably, Mayor Giuliani continues to hold strong with socially conservative voters. Socially conservative voters are becoming more comfortable with Mayor Giuliani as they hear him speak clearly about his agenda. Two of the Mayor’s 12 Commitments that are most important are "to increase the number of adoptions, reduce the number of abortions and protect the quality of life for our children." And no candidate has better credentials on judges and the Mayor has committed to "reform the legal system and appoint strict constructionist judges."

A recent Gallup Poll report released last week points out that Mayor Giuliani leads among all Republican subgroups — including with Conservative Republicans, those who attend church weekly, Protestant/Christians and Catholics.

The memo goes on to dismiss the campaigns of both Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson and concludes that “Mayor Giuliani is clearly the strongest candidate to run against Senator Clinton in the general election and is likely the only Republican candidate that can beat her in 2008.”

Giuliani's strategy seems two-pronged here: disputing the Right’s claims that that socially conservative voters will not support his campaign and bolstering that by echoing the message Gary Bauer has been peddling to his right-wing allies that bolting from the GOP only harms their chances of seeing their political agenda advanced and that there will be, in Bauer’s words, no “bigger disaster for social conservatives, defense conservatives and economic conservatives, than Hillary Clinton in the White House."

Romney Loads Up on Right-Wingers

Like Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney has unveiled his own "Advisory Committee on the Constitution and the Courts" filled with Federalist Society members and right-wing judicial activists such as Jay Sekulow, Wendy Long, Douglas Kmiec, Bradford Berenson, and James Bopp.

Calling Dobson’s Bluff

For months now, right-wing leaders and organizations have been in disarray as they struggle to maintain and exert their influence within the Republican Party while facing a primary campaign dominated by candidates who don’t excite them. 

While John McCain has been persona non grata ever since he attacked Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as “agents of intolerance” during his last presidential run, Mitt Romney has been blasted by some on the Right for everything from flip-flopping on issues to ties to pornography to his Mormon faith while Fred Thompson’s only major accomplishment since entering the race has been to quickly lose his position as the Right’s political savior, failing to win over the Arlington Group and being written off entirely by James Dobson (though some, like Richard Land, remain avid Thompson boosters).

It seems that, as of now, the only thing the leaders of the Religious Right seem able to agree on is that they don’t like, and will not support, Rudy Giuliani:

A powerful group of conservative Christian leaders decided Saturday at a private meeting in Salt Lake City to consider supporting a third-party candidate for president if a pro-choice nominee like Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination.

The meeting of about 50 leaders, including Focus on the Family's James Dobson, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who called in by phone, took place at the Grand America Hotel during a gathering of the Council for National Policy, a powerful shadow group of mostly religious conservatives. James Clymer, the chairman of the U.S. Constitution Party, was also present at the meeting, according to a person familiar with the proceedings.

"The conclusion was that if there is a pro-abortion nominee they will consider working with a third party," said the person, who spoke to Salon on the condition of anonymity. The private meeting was not a part of the official CNP schedule, which is itself a closely held secret. "Dobson came in just for this meeting," the person said.

Of course, this is not the first time Dobson has made this sort of threat:

Romney Blames Media for Mormon Phobia

In an interview with Christianity Today, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addresses the questions some readers may have about a Mormon candidate. But Romney apparently blames the media and those “who would like to establish a religion of secularism in this country to replace all others”:

[Q.] How do you think relations between Mormons and Trinitarian Christians have changed during your lifetime?

I don't know that there's been a significant change relating to doctrine. [But] several months ago, not long before he died, I had the occasion of having the Rev. Jerry Falwell at our home. He said that when he was getting ready to oppose same-sex marriage in California, he met with the president of my church in Salt Lake City, and they agreed to work together in a campaign in California. He said, "Far be it from me to suggest that we don't have the same values and the same objectives."

[Q.] Have you seen changes between 1968, when your father ran for President, and now?

In terms of the relationship between the faiths, I don't see any particular differences. I know the media today focus far more on people of faith. In some circles, the bias against believers is pronounced. There are some people who would like to establish a religion of secularism in this country to replace all others. So people of faith are routinely scrutinized in a way they were not when my dad ran in 1968.

Blaming the media for questions about Romney’s religion is something we’ve seen before (although blaming people who want to “replace all religion” with “secularism” may be a newer one). But if Romney is looking for someone to blame, perhaps he should start with the religious-right activists he’s been trying hard to court. As we posted before:

Religious Right Rally against Marriage Equality in Florida

Just days after the Religious Right’s B-team gathered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to question Republican candidates for president (including the ones who didn’t show up), a number of more prominent right-wing figures are convening in Tampa for the Family Impact Summit, sponsored by the Focus on the Family-affiliated Florida Family Policy Council, the Tampa-based Community Issues Council, the Family Research Council, and the Salem radio network.

Advertised topics range from “Christian Citizenship” to “Homosexual Agenda,” but the focus will no doubt be on the 2008 election, and in particular, the effort by Florida’s Right to put a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage on the ballot—even though gays are already prohibited from marrying by statute.

Below is some background on the featured speakers, from Tony Perkins and Richard Land to Katherine Harris and Ken Blackwell.

Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, considered the leading religious-right think tank in Washington, DC. Before coming to FRC, Perkins was a state legislator in Louisiana, and as a campaign manager for a Republican candidate, he reportedly bought David Duke’s e-mail list.

Under Perkins’s leadership, FRC, along with Focus on the Family, put together several “simulcasts” of political rallies held in churches, including three “Justice Sunday” events in 2005-2006—“Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith,” ”God Save the United States and this Honorable Court,” and “Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land”—featuring religious-right luminaries such as James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and Phyllis Schlafly, along with politicians like Rick Santorum and then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, arguing that opposition to Bush’s extreme judicial nominees constituted an assault on their faith or Christianity itself. A fourth event just before the 2006 elections, “Liberty Sunday,” promoted the idea that gays and their “agenda” were out to destroy religious freedom.

That fall, FRC also organized a “Values Voter Summit,” in which Dobson and other activists exhorted their constituency to turn out for the GOP; the conference showcased a number of future presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Sam Brownback. A second Values Voter Summit is planned for next month.

Also appearing from FRC at the Family Impact Summit are David Prentice and Peter Sprigg.

Richard Land

Since 1998, Richard Land has served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, which is “dedicated to addressing social and moral concerns and their implications on public policy issues from City Hall to Congress.”   

Land has been an active and influential right-wing leader for many years and in 2005, was named one of “The Twenty-five Most Influential Evangelicals in America” by Time Magazine, joining the likes of James Dobson, Chuck Colson, David Barton, Rick Santorum, and Ted Haggard.

Land also hosts three separate nationally syndicated radio programs and has written several books including, most recently “The Divided States of America? What Liberals and Conservatives are Missing in the God-and-Country Shouting Match!,” which Land claims seeks a middle ground between the right and the left on the role of religion in the public square.  In reality, the middle ground Land stakes out consists mainly of standard right-wing positions on political and social issues that are made to appear moderate in comparison to ultra-radical positions put forth by far-right fringe elements.  

In recent months, Land has been positioning himself to play a much more high-profile role in the presidential campaign than he has in the past, repeatedly asserting that he and other Evangelicals will not support Rudy Giuliani or Newt Gingrich, should he run,  while regularly bolstering the campaign of Fred Thompson, who Land calls a “Southern-fried Reagan.”

Harry Jackson

Jackson, pastor of a Maryland megachurch, has become a frequent spokesman for right-wing causes in recent years. In 2004, he played a prominent role in urging blacks to vote for George Bush, and in 2005, he started the High Impact Leadership Coalition and unveiled his “Black Contract with America on Moral Values”—an agenda topped with fighting gay marriage—at an event co-sponsored by the far-right Traditional Values Coalition. Jackson spoke at “Justice Sunday,” a religious-right rally in favor of Bush’s judicial nominees, as well as “Justice Sunday II, where he promised to “bring the rule and reign of the Cross to America.” He is a member of the Arlington Group.

Since then, Jackson has continued to urge blacks to vote for right-wing causes and candidates. “[Martin Luther] King would most likely be a social conservative,” he wrote in one typical column. His most recent efforts have focused on opposing hate crimes protections for gays, falsely claiming that a proposed bill would “muzzle our pulpits.”

In an article in Charisma magazine, Jackson wrote that the “wisdom behind” the “gay agenda” is “clearly satanic,” and he called for an aggressive “counterattack.” He asserted to The New York Times that “Historically when societies have gone off kilter, there has been rampant same-sex marriage.”

Don Wildmon

Wildmon is the Founder and Chairman of the American Family Association, which exists primarily to decry whatever it deems “immoral” in American culture and lead boycotts against companies that in any way support causes, organizations, or programs it deems offensive, particularly anything that does not portray gays and lesbians in a negative light. 

Over the years, AFA has targeted everything from the National Endowment for the Arts, Howard Stern, and the television show “Ellen” to major corporations such as Ford , Burger King, and Clorox.  AFA has also been particularly focused on Disney, declaring that the company’s “attack on America’s families has become so blatant, so intentional, so obvious” as to warrant a multi-year boycott.

Recently, AFA has been busy warning that proposed hate-crimes legislation is designed to lay the “groundwork for persecution of Christians,” attacked presidential candidate Mitt Romney over his time on the board of Marriott Corporation because the company offers adult movies in its hotels, and warned that the US Senate was “angering a just God” and bringing “judgment upon our country” by allowing a Hindu chaplain to deliver an opening prayer. 

Gary Bauer

Gary Bauer is a long-time right-wing activist and leader.  After serving President Ronald Reagan's administration for eight years in various capacities, Bauer went on to become President of the Family Research Council, which was founded, in part, by James Dobson of Focus on the Family, where Bauer also served as Senior Vice President. 

Bauer stepped down from FRC in 1999 when he launched an unsuccessful campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.  After dropping out of the race, Bauer made a surprising endorsement of Sen. John McCain at a time when many of the other right-wing leaders had lined up behind George W. Bush.  

Bauer’s standing took a beating when he defended McCain’s attack on Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as “agents of intolerance” and he was ostracized by many for quite a while after McCain lost.  But Bauer pressed ahead, creating his own non-profit, American Values, and gradually reestablished himself in right-wing circles.  

Since then, Bauer has been active in various right-wing campaigns, most notably joining with likes of Tony Perkins and James Dobson in defending and pressing for the confirmation of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.  

William Owens

Owens, a graduate of Oral Roberts University and a Memphis pastor, founded the Coalition of African American Pastors to combat equal marriage rights for gay couples. Owens reportedly told the “Rally for Traditional Marriage” held in Mississippi in 2004 that “homosexual activists of today have hijacked the civil rights cause,” adding: “We're going to fight until we win,” he said. “We're going to have crusades and rallies like this until we win. We're going to let our political leaders know ‘if you don't stand for God, we won't stand for you.’” Owens lent the CAAP name to the Religious Right’s judges campaign, signing on to the “National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters” and holding a press conference in support of Samuel Alito’s Supreme Court nomination.

In 2004, Owens formed an alliance with the Arlington Group, a coalition of powerful religious-right leaders that was widely credited with being the driving force behind the effort to put anti-gay marriage amendments on the ballot in 11 states in that year’s election. Owens is now on the group’s executive committee, alongside James Dobson, Gary Bauer, Bill Bennett, Tony Perkins, Paul Weyrich, Rod Parsley and others.

Alan Chambers

"Ex-gay" Alan Chambers is president of Exodus International and executive director of Exodus North America, which claim gay men and lesbians can be “cured" and "change" their sexual orientation to heterosexual. Exodus' board includes long-time anti-gay activist Phil Burress of Ohio's Citizens for Community Values, his wife Vickie Burress – founder of the American Family Association of Indiana – and Mike Haley, who replaced discredited "ex-gay" John Paulk at Focus on the Family as chief spokesperson on homosexuality and gender issues. Exodus also co-sponsors a series of "ex-gay" conferences across the country with Focus on the Family. One recent Love Won Out event was particularly mired in controversy when it was revealed that one of its presenting organizations had published a racist column that appeared to justify slavery. During a 2006 CPAC conference panel, Chambers insisted "lifelong homosexual relationships are not possible" and the battle for marriage equality was solely being promoted by the liberal media.

Other representatives of the “ex-gay” activist community scheduled for the conference include Scott Davis and Mike Ensley of Exodus and Nancy Heche, whose book “The Truth Comes Out” describes “how to respond lovingly, yet appropriately, to homosexual family members and friends,” such as her husband, who held secret “homosexual affairs,” and her daughter, whose open relationship with Ellen DeGeneres Heche called “Like a betrayal of an unspoken vow: We will never have anything to do with homosexuals.”

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is something of a journeyman within the right-wing movement.  After starting out as a journalist and editor for various newspapers, Knight has held a series of jobs with various right-wing organizations including Senior Director of Cultural Studies at the Family Research Council, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and director of the Culture & Family Institute at Concerned Women for America.

Currently, he is the head of the Media Research Center’s Culture and Media Institute at the Media Research Center and a columnist for Townhall.com.

His hostility toward gays is well-known, as evidenced by his response to the news that Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of the Vice President, was expecting a child with her partner: 

"I think it's tragic that a child has been conceived with the express purpose of denying it a father," Knight said.

"Fatherhood is important and always will be, so if Mary and her partner indicate that that is a trivial matter, they're shortchanging this child from the start."

"Mary and Heather can believe what they want," Knight said, "but what they're seeking is to force others to bless their nonmarital relationship as marriage" and to "create a culture that is based on sexual anarchy instead of marriage and family values."

John Stemberger

Stemberger, a personal injury attorney and former political director for the Florida GOP, is the president and general counsel of the Florida Family Policy Counsel/Florida Family Action, a state affiliate of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family.

Stemberger is leading the petition drive to put on next year’s ballot a constitutional amendment to ban equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, which is already banned by statute. While a 2006 effort fell short, as of September 5, Florida4Marriage.org claimed to have gathered 594,000 of the 611,000 signatures they need to submit by February 1, making it likely that the amendment will be on the ballot in 2008.

Ken Blackwell

Blackwell is most famous as the controversial Ohio secretary of state during the 2004 election, overseeing voting laws while moonlighting as state co-chair for Bush/Cheney. But he has a long history of far-right activism on economic and civil rights issues, and in 2004 Blackwell forged an alliance with the Religious Right as he campaigned for an anti-gay ballot measure. By 2006, when Blackwell ran for governor, this alliance had grown into a church-based political machine, with megachurch pastors Rod Parsley and Russell Johnson taking Blackwell to rallies of “Patriot Pastors,” who signed on to a vision of a Christianity under attack by dark forces, in need of “restoration” through electoral politics. “This is a battle between the forces of righteousness and the hordes of hell,” declared Johnson.

Blackwell’s gubernatorial bid failed, but he continues his career as a right-wing activist with affiliations with the Family Research Council and the Club for Growth, as well as a column on Townhall.com.

Katherine Harris

Harris is well known for her controversial role in Florida’s 2000 presidential election debacle, when she served as both secretary of state, overseeing a “purge” of voter rolls as well as the recount itself, and as a state co-chair for Bush/Cheney. She was elected to the U.S. House in 2002 and 2004, and spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference in both 2002 and 2003.

In 2006 Harris made a quixotic Senate run, during which she heavily courted the Religious Right. In an interview with the Florida Baptist Witness, she implied that her opponent, Sen. Bill Nelson, was not a Christian, saying, “[I]f you’re not electing Christians then in essence you are going to legislate sin. They can legislate sin. They can say that abortion is alright. They can vote to sustain gay marriage. And that will take western civilization, indeed other nations because people look to our country as one nation as under God and whenever we legislate sin and we say abortion is permissible and we say gay unions are permissible, then average citizens who are not Christians, because they don’t know better, we are leading them astray and it’s wrong.” She also advised people to disbelieve “that lie we have been told, the separation of church and state.”

Tom Minnery

Minnery is vice president for public policy at Focus on the Family and a frequent spokesman for the group. He is the author of “Why You Can’t Stay Silent: A Biblical Mandate to Shape Our Culture,” arguing that society should be “changed from the top down morally.” Focus on the Family, with a combined budget of over $160 million, promotes far-right positions on social issues to millions of Americans through radio, print, and the web, and Focus founder James Dobson is probably the single most influential figure on the Religious Right.

“There are more than enough Christians to defeat the Left," Minnery said at a rally in South Dakota. "There are a lot of pastors who didn't want to be seen as an 'activist,' but this issue of marriage has left them with little choice but to get involved."

Catch a Falling Star

Things don’t seem to be going very well for Fred Thompson’s nascent presidential campaign.  A few weeks ago, we noted that Thompson has failed to secure the endorsement of the members of the highly influential right-wing collective The Arlington Group and now, to make matters worse, he has apparently been declared unacceptable by James Dobson:

James Dobson, one of the nation's most politically influential evangelical Christians, this week wrote to friends that he will not support Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson.

In a private e-mail obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, Dobson accuses the former Tennessee senator and actor of being weak on the campaign trail and wrong on issues dear to social conservatives.

"Isn't Thompson the candidate who is opposed to a Constitutional amendment to protect marriage, believes there should be 50 different definitions of marriage in the U.S., favors McCain-Feingold, won't talk at all about what he believes, and can't speak his way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail?" Dobson wrote. "He has no passion, no zeal and no apparent 'want to.' And yet he is apparently the Great Hope that burns in the breasts of many conservative Christians? Well, not for me, my brothers. Not for me!"

Thompson now joins John McCain and Rudy Giuliani as having been written off by Dobson, which leaves Mitt Romney as the last man standing among the top-tier Republican candidate and Dobson has had nice things to say about him in the past. 

In light of the attempts to anoint Mike Huckabee as the Right’s candidate of choice - or the “David among Jesse’s sons,” as Janet Folger put it – Dobson’s ultimate decision of which remaining candidate to back has the potential to not only shape the Republican presidential primary race but also exacerbate divisions among right-wing groups as they scramble to maintain their political influence heading into 2008.  

FRC Succeeds Where Values Voter Debate Failed

As we noted several times over the last several weeks leading up to the Values Voters Debate, not one of the top-tier candidates was willing to accept an invitation to appear – something which did not go over too well with the organizers of the event. 

We also noted that, though he was not willing to attend the Values Voters Debate, Mitt Romney was more than willing to make time in his schedule to attend the Values Voter Summit in October, hosted by the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, American Values and others.

Well, it looks like Romney will now have some company:

Today FRC Action announced that GOP presidential candidate Senator John McCain (R-AZ) will speak at FRC Action's Washington Briefing 2007: Values Voter Summit on Friday, October 19. This is Senator McCain's first appearance at an FRC Action event.

Senator McCain will be joined by Governor Mitt Romney, Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA), and Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO). No Democratic candidate has accepted the invitation to speak. We await responses from Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Senator Fred Thompson.

The five GOP presidential candidates will appeal for support from the gathering of pro-family activists who will participate in the first Values Voter Summit Straw Poll. The straw poll will be a defining moment as candidates see where they stack up with one of the most crucial voting blocs in the country. The straw poll will begin at noon on Friday, October 19, and will conclude the next day at 1 pm. The winner of the straw poll is expected to be announced at 3 pm on Saturday.

The Summit website also lists Mike Huckabee as confirmed, as well, so it looks as if FRC will have not only several of the candidates who attended the Values Voter Debate, but at least two of the four candidates who skipped the debate as well.  

Surprise! Gays Not Popular at Religious Right’s GOP Debate

Given the radical right’s longstanding obsession with denying legal recognition or protections to LGBT Americans, it’s not surprising that several questions at the "Values Voter Debate" were about protecting America from the gays. Also not surprisingly, these candidates lined up to oppose equality.

The first question of the night, from the American Family Association’s Buddy Smith, was about “protecting” marriage.  Every candidate except libertarian Ron Paul pledged to push for a federal marriage amendment.  Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee touted his record of pushing a marriage amendment in his state and promised to lead an effort to have a constitutional amendment that would affirm marriage as “one man, one woman, for life.”  Rep. Tom Tancredo pledged to do everything possible to pass a federal constitutional amendment, warning that Americans are just “one kooky judge” away from having homosexual marriage forced on them.  Sen. Brownback bragged of his efforts in the Senate to pass the FMA and complained that President Bush had not done more to pass it.  Alan Keyes, who had just tossed his hat in the ring, took a shot at the absent Mitt Romney, calling him “single-handedly responsible” for gays getting married in Massachusetts (not, shall we say, a view widely shared among marriage equality activists).

Paul Weyrich, a founder of the modern Religious Right political movement, closed the first section of the program by asking what candidates would do to counteract “the homosexual agenda.”  Most candidates went back to the need for a marriage amendment to prevent, in Keyes’ typically tempered words, the “destruction of traditional marriage.” Brownback and Rep. Duncan Hunter talked about keeping gays from serving openly in the military.  Libertarian Ron Paul, while saying he is opposed to legislating morality, called for eradicating hate crime laws. Brownback also attacked hate crimes laws as criminalizing thought and moving into an agenda of not allowing people to speak their beliefs.  Businessman John Cox talked about common sense but spouted nonsense, talking about opening floodgates to bestiality and polygamy and warning darkly of “transvestite” teachers in public schools as a reason to support “school choice” and homeschooling.

During the “yes or no” segment of the program, Stephen Bennett, self-proclaimed “former homosexual,” argued that homosexual behavior is immoral and dangerous, and asked whether, as president, candidates would support legislation ensuring that schools would forfeit federal funding if they expose children to “homosexual propaganda” that puts them at risk. All the candidates clicked their green lights to answer “yes.”   A later question asking whether they would pledge to veto ENDA also won unanimous support.  

During a segment in which questions were directed at a single candidate, anti-gay zealot Peter LaBarbera asked the absent Mitt Romney why voters should trust him when he spent so much of  his career promoting “anti-life” and “pro-homosexual” policies and not challenging Marriott’s providing pornography in its hotels as a member of its board.  But perhaps the most memorable anti-gay question came from Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who cited Abraham Lincoln in criticizing Fred Thompson’s “federalist” approach to marriage, essentially making marriage equality the moral equivalent of slavery:

While you were senator you opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment, but recently you stated that you would support a marriage amendment that would prevent judges from imposing same-sex marriage, so long as it would not prohibit state legislatures from adopting same-sex marriage. This reasoning is like saying that you favor a constitutional amendment that prohibits judges from imposing slavery, so long as the state legislatures were free to do so. Does not your position fundamentally misunderstand the universal importance of marriage in the same way my latter example about slavery indicates a misunderstanding of human dignity?

Who's Who At the Values Voter Debate

Below are short biographies of those who have been mentioned as participating in tonight's "Values Voter Presidential Debate" in Fort Lauderdale, Florida:
Syndicate content

Mitt Romney Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 06/08/2011, 10:52am
Last year, Randall Terry hit upon the idea of running for president in order to exploit a loophole that would allow him to air graphic anti-abortion ads on television. Today, he announced that his first campaign ad would begin airing in Iowa, though it is mostly just a standard political ad: Barack Hussein Obama is the worst President in our history. He's at war with our founding principles of life and liberty. His bailout of Wall Street, and socialist agenda have enslaved our children to debt…to China. His addiction to Arab oil funds Islamic terrorists, while he leaves billions of... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 06/03/2011, 5:50pm
Michael B. Keegan @ Huffington Post: Mitt Romney the Weathervane: What Our Most Changeable Politician Can Tell Us About the Modern GOP. Tanya Somanader @ Think Progress: Sarah Palin’s History Lesson: Paul Revere Warned The British. Towleroad: VA Lawmaker Says Bank's Gay Pride Flag 'Undermines the American Economy', Demands It Be Taken Down. Evan McMorris-Santoro @ TPM: George Allen Offers Emotional Apology For Macaca Incident. Nick @ Bold Faith Type: New Jersey Congressman Touts Foreign Aid Programs He Voted to Cut. Sarah Posner @ Religion... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 06/01/2011, 11:49am
Ralph Reed's "Faith and Freedom Conference & Summit" kicks off on Friday and, as today's New York Times reports, it serves as proof that Reed has been able to shrug off his deep ties to Jack Abramoff and regain his prominence and prestige as a leading Religious Right organizer: As with the Christian Coalition, this group’s conference roster includes nearly all the likely contenders for the presidential nomination, including former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Herman Cain, a retired businessman, and Representative Michele... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 05/31/2011, 5:34pm
Sarah Palin's "Please Pay Attention To Me" bus tour is unfolding just as you would expect it to. Rob Scheck appears very impressed with Mitt Romney. I am pretty sure that this anti-gay marriage activist doesn't really believe that the government "should get its nose out of marriage altogether." Why not let Ed Meese, Erick Erickson, Jackie Gingrich Cushman, Rick Green, and Janine Turner teach your child how to be a proper patriot? Finally, skip ahead to the 1:39 mark of this video to hear John Hagee completely mispronounce Justice Antonin Scalia's... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 05/26/2011, 10:26am
Warren Cole Smith is associate publisher of World, the Religious Right magazine run by Marvin Olasky, who was the man responsible for George W. Bush's "compassionate conservative" ideology. Smith, whose columns are run by the American Family Association and he even shows up as a guest on their radio programs, has penned a remarkably frank piece on why it is theologically dangerous for Christians to even consider voting for Mitt Romney who, simply by virtue of being a Mormon, is unfit to serve as president: Placing a Mormon in that pulpit would be a source of pride and a shot of... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 05/18/2011, 5:32pm
Joseph Farah says "Newt Gingrich is a liberal." Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana, says Mitch Daniels "has a bit of a weakness on the homosexual demands." Phyllis Schlafly gets worked up over the strangest things. Mitt Romney hires Mark DeMoss. From the latest FRC prayer update: "May Tennessee enact this bill to prevent ENDA-like ordinances! May Congress do so likewise, if the President dares to circumvent Congress by issuing an ENDA-like Executive Order!" Finally, quote of the day... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 05/17/2011, 9:48am
Michele Bachmann 2012: More likely to run for president following Mike Huckabee's decision against running (CBS News, 5/16).  Constitution: High school student challenges her to a debate on the Constitution as a result of her record of making incorrect statements (Minnesota Independent, 5/13).  Herman Cain Georgia: Wins praise for speech at Georgia GOP convention (Southern Political Report, 5/16).  Florida: Tops field in Fort Lauderdale Tea Party straw poll (Sunshine State News, 5/16).  Mitch Daniels Reproductive Rights: Signs law defunding Planned Parenthood that... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Monday 05/16/2011, 12:26pm
Republican presidential aspirants continue to flock to Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition. Reed today announced that former Utah governor and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman will speak to the group’s Conference and Strategy Briefing on June 3rd. Other GOP presidential contenders addressing the gathering include Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain, along with Donald Trump, House GOP leaders John Boehner, Kevin McCarthy, and Paul Ryan, and numerous Republican congressmen. The Faith and Freedom Coalition seems to be the restoration of Reed’s... MORE >