Rudy Giuliani

Huckabee: GOP Primary Voters Too "Unrealistic"

OnThe 700 Club with Pat Robertson today, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee said that he decided against running for president partly because the Republican base is too “unrealistic.” Robertson, who endorsed Rudy Giuliani in 2008, asked Huckabee if he passed on a second presidential campaign in order to pursue his new career as a Fox News commentator and the head of a line of conservative history videos, which he was promoting on the show.

Huckabee responded, “I felt like the atmosphere right now is so toxic and part of it is that I think that many people in my party, the Republican Party, are unrealistic, and what they want is something that no one can deliver, and that’s a candidate who is going to solve every problem in an election cycle.”

Watch:

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Richard Land says the Religious Right is ready to vote for a Mormon ... as a last resort.
  • Jack Kevorkian has died.
  • Rudy Giuliani just never learns.
  • Quote of the day from Matt Barber: "[The] homosexual activist political tsunami destroys everything in its path that is righteous, good and beneficial to society."
  • Finally, speaking of Barber, he and Mat Staver have nothing but great things to say about MassResistance.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Every time you think the Birthers can't get any more ridiculous, they prove you wrong.
  • Molotov Mitchell explains that even though the Bible prohibits tattoos, it totally doesn't mean it.
  • A two-hour movie all about how great Sarah Palin is?  I won't be watching that.
  • Because it went so well last time, Rudy Giuliani is apparently thinking of making another run for president.
  • Peter LaBarber's obsession with all things gay continues.
  • Finally, Timothy Miller pled not guilty to charges of helping Lisa Miller kidnap her daughter and flee the country.

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 4/5/11

Michele Bachmann

Iowa: Hires Mike Huckabee’s former state director for campaign (MN Public Radio, 4/4).

Religious Right: Slated to speak at Family Leader events (Des Moines Register, 4/4).

Fundraising: Tops Mitt Romney in fundraising (Time, 4/1).

Obama: Says President Obama is deliberately damaging the economy (RWW, 3/31).

Haley Barbour

2012: Wife concerned about presidential race, says bid “horrifies” her (Reuters, 4/2).

Mississippi: Economic conservatives criticize Barbour’s record as governor (Politico, 4/2).

Poll: Trails Huckabee in poll of home state’s Republican voters (Mississippi Press, 3/31).

Herman Cain

Obama: Says President Obama is “not the president of black people” (Daily Caller, 4/4).

Birther: Joins Donald Trump in questioning President Obama’s birth certificate (Politico, 4/1).

Newt Gingrich

Iowa: Defends financial assistance to Religious Right group in Iowa judicial election (Think Progress, 4/4). 

Obama: Likens Obama's fundraising goal to extortion (CNN, 4/4). 

Religious Right: Poised to kickoff right-wing Awakening conference at Liberty University (RWW, 3/28). 

Rudy Giuliani

2012: Frames himself as an electable Republican candidate (GOP12, 4/4).

Foreign Affairs: Criticizes President Obama’s handling of Libyan crisis (Ozarks Unbound, 4/4).

Mike Huckabee

Campaign: Advisers want Huckabee's 2012 campaign to be less family-run (US News & World Report, 4/4). 

South Carolina: Wins straw poll in heavily GOP county in upstate South Carolina (UPI, 4/3). 

Background: Public records as governor destroyed (Mother Jones, 4/1). 

Sarah Palin

Media: Slated to appear in E! True Hollywood story biopic (Mediaite, 4/4).

New Hampshire: Former GOP Senator from New Hampshire slams Palin as overly ambitious, polarizing (Boston Globe, 4/4). 

Rand Paul

Religious Right: Scheduled to address Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition (RWW, 4/4).

Iowa: Speaks to Iowa GOP’s “Night of the Rising Stars” (Iowa Independent, 4/4).

Tim Pawlenty

Obama: Launches new cinematic video to respond to Obama's reelection announcement (HuffPo, 4/4). 

Background: Left Minnesota with a massive budget deficit (LA Times, 4/2). 

Mitt Romney

Foreign Affairs: Claims his experience in business will help him in foreign policy (RCP, 4/5).

New Hampshire: Set to address Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity forum in New Hampshire (CNN, 4/4). 

Campaign: Runs subdued campaign in order to reintroduce himself to voters (NYT, 4/2).

Rick Santorum

South Carolina: Accepts invitation to appear in South Carolina debate for presidential candidates (CBS News, 4/1).

Religious Right: Blames legal abortion for Social Security problems (RWW, 3/29).

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 1/25/11

Michele Bachmann

SOTU: Plans to give her own State of the Union Response to a Tea Party Express rally, even though Wisconsin Rep. Jim Ryan is the official Republican speaker (Star Tribune, 1/24).

History: Maintains that skin color didn’t matter in early America at an Iowans for Tax Reform event (TPM, 1/24).

Religious Right: Addressed the “March for Life” Rose Dinner (Politico, 1/24).

Iowa: “Encouraged” by reception at Iowa events (Des Moines Register, 1/22).

Religious Right: Set to attend a meeting of Iowa’s The Family Leader, led by Bob Vander Plaats (RWW, 1/20).

Newt Gingrich

2012: Considering a presidential bid with a campaign based in Georgia (AJC, 1/21).

Religious Right: Set to attend a meeting of Iowa’s The Family Leader, led by Bob Vander Plaats (RWW, 1/20).

Rudy Giuliani

2012: Floats potential presidential bid despite 2008 defeat (TPM, 1/25).

Palin: Claims that a Palin candidacy would increase his chance of running (WSJ, 1/21).

Mike Huckabee

Debates: Won’t attend early debates in order to preserve his summer deadline (Politico, 1/24).

2012: Must decide whether to give up media “mini-empire” for a presidential run (LA Times, 1/21).

Sarah Palin

Texas: Spoke about how Alaska and Texas are both “good beacons of freedom” at a fundraiser for the Lubbock Christian School (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, 1/25).

Media: Dana Milbank proposes a month-long media boycott of covering Palin (WaPo, 1/21).

Tim Pawlenty

Book: Releases video advertisement promoting new book, Courage to Stand (TPM, 1/24).

Religious Right: Set to attend a meeting of Iowa’s The Family Leader, led by Bob Vander Plaats (RWW, 1/18).

Mike Pence

Religious Right: Addressed the “March for Life” in Washington, DC (Politico, 1/24).

GOP: May be able to unite economic and social conservatives better than Mike Huckabee (Religion Dispatches, 1/21).

South Carolina: Group of South Carolina state legislators launches a “Draft Pence” effort (RWW, 1/20).

Mitt Romney

Poll: Leads all other rivals in national poll of Republican voters with 24% (Rasmussen Reports, 1/24).

New Hampshire: Wins New Hampshire GOP straw poll (Christian Science Monitor, 1/22).

Health Care: Rove says Romney must respond to criticisms about his health care reform law in Massachusetts (Political Wire, 1/20).

Rick Santorum

Reproductive Rights: Defends criticism of Obama’s views on choice in an Op-Ed for the National Review (NRO, 1/24).

Iowa: Set to attend a meeting of Iowa’s The Family Leader, led by Bob Vander Plaats (RWW, 1/20).

Religious Right: Uses Obama’s race to attack his stance on abortion-rights, slams gay adoption (RWW, 1/19).

John Thune

Tea Party: May have trouble with Tea Party voters over his support for ethanol industry subsidies (The Argus Leader, 1/23).

New Hampshire: Thune fundraisers “making calls in New Hampshire on Thune’s behalf” (The Argus Leader, 1/21).

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 1/25/11

Michele Bachmann

SOTU: Plans to give her own State of the Union Response to a Tea Party Express rally, even though Wisconsin Rep. Jim Ryan is the official Republican speaker (Star Tribune, 1/24).

History: Maintains that skin color didn’t matter in early America at an Iowans for Tax Reform event (TPM, 1/24).

Religious Right: Addressed the “March for Life” Rose Dinner (Politico, 1/24).

Iowa: “Encouraged” by reception at Iowa events (Des Moines Register, 1/22).

Religious Right: Set to attend a meeting of Iowa’s The Family Leader, led by Bob Vander Plaats (RWW, 1/20).

Newt Gingrich

2012: Considering a presidential bid with a campaign based in Georgia (AJC, 1/21).

Religious Right: Set to attend a meeting of Iowa’s The Family Leader, led by Bob Vander Plaats (RWW, 1/20).

Rudy Giuliani

2012: Floats potential presidential bid despite 2008 defeat (TPM, 1/25).

Palin: Claims that a Palin candidacy would increase his chance of running (WSJ, 1/21).

Mike Huckabee

Debates: Won’t attend early debates in order to preserve his summer deadline (Politico, 1/24).

2012: Must decide whether to give up media “mini-empire” for a presidential run (LA Times, 1/21).

Sarah Palin

Texas: Spoke about how Alaska and Texas are both “good beacons of freedom” at a fundraiser for the Lubbock Christian School (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, 1/25).

Media: Dana Milbank proposes a month-long media boycott of covering Palin (WaPo, 1/21).

Tim Pawlenty

Book: Releases video advertisement promoting new book, Courage to Stand (TPM, 1/24).

Religious Right: Set to attend a meeting of Iowa’s The Family Leader, led by Bob Vander Plaats (RWW, 1/18).

Mike Pence

Religious Right: Addressed the “March for Life” in Washington, DC (Politico, 1/24).

GOP: May be able to unite economic and social conservatives better than Mike Huckabee (Religion Dispatches, 1/21).

South Carolina: Group of South Carolina state legislators launches a “Draft Pence” effort (RWW, 1/20).

Mitt Romney

Poll: Leads all other rivals in national poll of Republican voters with 24% (Rasmussen Reports, 1/24).

New Hampshire: Wins New Hampshire GOP straw poll (Christian Science Monitor, 1/22).

Health Care: Rove says Romney must respond to criticisms about his health care reform law in Massachusetts (Political Wire, 1/20).

Rick Santorum

Reproductive Rights: Defends criticism of Obama’s views on choice in an Op-Ed for the National Review (NRO, 1/24).

Iowa: Set to attend a meeting of Iowa’s The Family Leader, led by Bob Vander Plaats (RWW, 1/20).

Religious Right: Uses Obama’s race to attack his stance on abortion-rights, slams gay adoption (RWW, 1/19).

John Thune

Tea Party: May have trouble with Tea Party voters over his support for ethanol industry subsidies (The Argus Leader, 1/23).

New Hampshire: Thune fundraisers “making calls in New Hampshire on Thune’s behalf” (The Argus Leader, 1/21).

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Mat Staver says Americans United is "out to literally destroy America."
  • Rudy Giuliani is "absolutely" thinking about running again in 2012.
  • Mike Huckabee will wait until at least the summer before making a decision about running in 2012.
  • The Thomas More Law Center has a rather unique reason for suing over the government bailout of AIG.
  • Finally, Sen. Jim DeMint joins the Religious Right's boycott of CPAC.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • It might help if Rudy Giuliani actually watched the State of the Union Address before he went on television to criticize it.
  • Rep. Steve King seems to think that James O'Keefe's arrest is part of some sort of left-wing plot.
  • Is Orly Taitz planning on running for office?
  • Sometime, when you see things like this, you wonder why people even bother trying to debate the issue of marriage equality.
  • Finally, Maggie Gallagher seems to be setting her side up to play the victim should they lose the Prop 8 trial, claiming that a bunch of their witnesses withdrew out of fear of having their testimony televised.

The Hannity-Terry-Giuliani-Robertson Connection

Over the weekend President Obama spoke, as scheduled, at the University of Notre Dame and, as expected, the protests being led by Alan Keyes and Randall Terry continued.

The protesting has been good for the activist’s profiles, as they have received a lot of media coverage and Keyes was even scheduled to appear on Friday’s episode of “Hannity” but couldn’t make it because he had been arrested and was sitting in jail.  As such, Terry took his place and spewed the sort of nonsense everyone expects from the founder of Operation Rescue while Hannity nodded along in agreement.

The interesting thing about Hannity and Terry coming together to decry this sort of apostasy against the “pro-life” movement was that the last time Terry was throwing around these sorts of accusations was back in 2007 when the pro-choice Rudy Giuliani was seeking the Republican presidential nomination and Terry was targeting those who dared to support him:

So-called 'pro-life Republicans' that are endorsing Rudy - like TX Governor Rick Perry, or NY Representative Pete Sessions, are typical treacherous politicians. They have betrayed innocent blood to support a child-killer; we can only wonder what '30 pieces of silver' they are seeking. Pro-life Republicans are on trial, to see what we value more: life or power; principle or party."

Eventually, Terry focused his ire on Pat Robertson for endorsing Giuliani and even began protesting outside of the CBN office in Washington DC.

And who immediately came to Robertson’s defense?  None other than Sean Hannity, who brought Robertson on the show to explain his endorsement.  And the reason he did that is because Hannity was also an early supporter of Giuliani’s presidential campaign:

It's no secret that Sean Hannity, the conservative Fox News commentator, has helped to raise Rudy Giuliani's profile - but now he's helped the former mayor raise money, too.

In a little noticed event this month, Hannity - co-host of Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes" and host of a popular WABC radio show - introduced the Republican front-runner at a closed-door, $250-per-head fund-raiser Aug. 9 in Cincinnati, campaign officials acknowledge.

In so doing, some believe that Hannity - while clearly a commentator paid to express his opinions - crossed the line from punditry into financial rainmaking for a presidential candidate whose bottom line is now better for it.

When a group of Religious Right leaders declared that they would sooner leave the GOP than support Giuliani if he got the party’s nomination, Hannity brought James Dobson on the program and practically begged him to reconsider, but Dobson would not budge. Eventually, all of Hannity’s championing of Giuliani started getting under the skin of the Religious Right, with leaders like Tony Perkins calling him out for pushing their concerns aside and trying to sell this pro-choice candidate to the right-wing anti-choice base.  

So, just over a year ago, when Hannity was supporting a pro-choice candidate in Rudy Giuliani, he had no use for the hardliners on the Right and their incessant focus on abortion.  

But today, when the pro-choice President of the United States delivers a commencement address, Hannity brings those same hardliners onto his program to join him in lamenting Notre Dame’s betrayal of the sacred principles of the anti-abortion movement.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Media Matters has compiled an extensive list of quotes from conservative commentators denouncing the use of filibusters to block President Bush's nominees to the Supreme Court or lower courts.
  • David Neiwert catches Newt Gingrich claiming that President Obama "thinks he should get up in the morning and punish Americans."
  • Tips-Q notes that Rudy Giuliani backed out of attending his gay friends' wedding at the very last moment.
  • Good as You comments on the irony that NOM is running ads claiming that gay marriage supporters want to silence the opposition while refusing to accept comments from the opposition on its blog.
  • Publius takes a look at the Oklahoma GOP's platform and notes its obsessive focus with homosexuality.
  • Steve Benen takes issue with Sen. Orrin Hatch's assertion that "empathy" is a code word for "activist judge."

Signs G.O.P. Is Rethinking Its Stance on Gay Marriage?

The New York Times' Adam Nagourney has a piece in today's paper claiming that the "the issue of gay marriage may be turning into more of a hindrance than a help" for the Republican Party. 

Citing a recent poll showing that 57 percent of those under the age 40 said they support marriage equality, Nagourney says it suggests to "many Republicans that the potency of the gay-marriage question is on the decline." He then quotes three Republicans, the first being Steve Schmidt, John McCain's senior strategist during his presidential campaign.

Schmidt recently came out in favor of marriage equality, so it is no surprise that he thinks the GOP should re-examine its stance on the issue. But, as Timothy Potter of the Family Research Council put it, Steve Schmidt isn’t exactly speaking for the majority of the party these days:

Steve Schmidt isn’t the head of the GOP. But I don’t doubt that there are others in the GOP establishment who think like him, and I don’t care. The GOP should do what it thinks is best for itself. I don’t think abandoning a third of your base is necessarily a good idea.

The article also contains a quote from Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty:

Asked if he thought, given recent events, that Republicans were making a political mistake in emphasizing gay issues, Mr. Pawlenty, who is 48, responded: “I think it’s an important issue for our conservative voters.” But he notably did not dwell on the subject.

Apparently, because he didn't "dwell" on the topic, that somehow suggests that the party as a whole is undergoing some sort of shift.

Finally, Nagourney quotes Rudy Giuliani of all people, saying that voters are more concerned with issues like the economy and national security and don't really care about social issues right now:

“Right now, people are not concerned about issues like gay marriage because they are concerned about the economy,” Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former Republican mayor of New York, told reporters in Albany after meeting with Republican members of the state Senate, who are opposing legislation to legalize gay marriage.

Mr. Giuliani explained that he opposed gay marriage — while supporting civil unions — but that he did not think it made much sense for Republicans to be harping on the issue if the party had any serious interest in returning to power.

“The Republican party does best organizing itself around economic issues and issues of national security,” said Mr. Giuliani, 64, who ran for president last year and is now thinking about running for governor of New York.

It should be pointed out that Giuliani might not be a particularly good representation of just what the Republican Party thinks about anything, considering that he spent $60 million seeking the GOP nomination last year and dropped out after securing a whopping one delegate. His campaign tanked thanks, in part, to right-wing threats to abandon the GOP should he become the nominee because of his views on the issue of marriage and reproductive choice.

While polls may show that the GOP's anti-gay views are becoming less popular with voters, especially younger voters, there is still a long way to go before the party itself abandons its traditional stance on the issue ... and considering that the Religious Right would rather see the party destroyed than allow that to happen, it's unlikely that any such a massive shift will be happening any time soon.

The End of Christian America?

In recent days there have appeared two pieces that have generated a lot of attention suggesting that the Religious Right days as a political and cultural force are coming to an end.

The first was Kathleen Parker’s column covering the recent skirmish between right-wing radio host Steve Deace and Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family about James Dobson's and Focus on the Family’s support of John McCain’s presidential campaign. In this fight, Parker sees evidence that “the Christian right [might be] finished as a political entity”:

Deace's point was that established Christian activist groups too often settle for lesser evils in exchange for electing Republicans. He cited as examples Dobson's support of Mitt Romney and John McCain, neither of whom is pro-life or pro-family enough from Deace's perspective.

Compromise may be the grease of politics, but it has no place in Christian orthodoxy, according to Deace.

Put another way, Christians may have no place in the political fray of dealmaking. That doesn't mean one disengages from political life, but it might mean that the church shouldn't be a branch of the Republican Party. It might mean trading fame and fortune (green rooms and fundraisers) for humility and charity.

Deace's radio show may be beneath the radar of most Americans and even most Christians, but he is not alone in his thinking. I was alerted to the Deace-Minnery interview by E. Ray Moore -- founder of the South Carolina-based Exodus Mandate, an initiative to encourage Christian education and home schooling. Moore, who considers himself a member of the Christian right, thinks the movement is imploding.

"It's hard to admit defeat, but this one was self-inflicted," he wrote in an e-mail. "Yes, Dr. Dobson and the pro-family or Christian right political movement is a failure; it would have made me sad to say this in the past, but they have done it to themselves."

A somewhat similar article appears as the cover story of the upcoming issue of Newsweek in which author Jon Meacham predicts that the most recent American Religious Identification Survey showing a rise in the number of self-identified non-believers signals that the United States may be moving into a “post-Christian” era:

This is not to say that the Christian God is dead, but that he is less of a force in American politics and culture than at any other time in recent memory. To the surprise of liberals who fear the advent of an evangelical theocracy and to the dismay of religious conservatives who long to see their faith more fully expressed in public life, Christians are now making up a declining percentage of the American population.

Much of Meacham’s piece is predicated on concerns raised by Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who notes that, according to the survey, “the Northeast emerged in 2008 as the new stronghold of the religiously unidentified” which signals that “the historic foundation of America's religious culture was cracking:

"The post-Christian narrative is radically different; it offers spirituality, however defined, without binding authority," [Mohler] told me. "It is based on an understanding of history that presumes a less tolerant past and a more tolerant future, with the present as an important transitional step." The present, in this sense, is less about the death of God and more about the birth of many gods. The rising numbers of religiously unaffiliated Americans are people more apt to call themselves "spiritual" rather than "religious."

Evangelical Christians have long believed that the United States should be a nation whose political life is based upon and governed by their interpretation of biblical and theological principles. If the church believes drinking to be a sin, for instance, then the laws of the state should ban the consumption of alcohol. If the church believes the theory of evolution conflicts with a literal reading of the Book of Genesis, then the public schools should tailor their lessons accordingly. If the church believes abortion should be outlawed, then the legislatures and courts of the land should follow suit. The intensity of feeling about how Christian the nation should be has ebbed and flowed since Jamestown; there is, as the Bible says, no thing new under the sun. For more than 40 years, the debate that began with the Supreme Court's decision to end mandatory school prayer in 1962 (and accelerated with the Roe v. Wade ruling 11 years later) may not have been novel, but it has been ferocious. Fearing the coming of a Europe-like secular state, the right longed to engineer a return to what it believed was a Christian America of yore.

But that project has failed, at least for now. In Texas, authorities have decided to side with science, not theology, in a dispute over the teaching of evolution. The terrible economic times have not led to an increase in church attendance. In Iowa last Friday, the state Supreme Court ruled against a ban on same-sex marriage, a defeat for religious conservatives. Such evidence is what has believers fretting about the possibility of an age dominated by a newly muscular secularism. "The moral teachings of Christianity have exerted an incalculable influence on Western civilization," Mohler says. "As those moral teachings fade into cultural memory, a secularized morality takes their place. Once Christianity is abandoned by a significant portion of the population, the moral landscape necessarily changes. For the better part of the 20th century, the nations of Western Europe led the way in the abandonment of Christian commitments. Christian moral reflexes and moral principles gave way to the loosening grip of a Christian memory. Now even that Christian memory is absent from the lives of millions."

I have to say I find this temptation from commentators to write the Religious Right’s obituary after every Republican electoral setback rather remarkable.  For one thing, as we pointed out not too long ago, these sorts of pieces appear every few years, only to be overtaken a short time later with pieces marveling that the “sudden” and “unexpected” resurgence of the “values voters" crowd. In addition, despite the gloominess from the likes of Mohler and Deace, the Religious Right is more committed than ever to regrouping as a “resistance movement” to fight for its agenda and eventually regain its position as an influential and powerful political and social force.

And that day may come sooner than many realize. While it might seem at the moment that the Religious Right is on its way out, it is important to remember that the GOP has lost exactly one mid-term election and one presidential election and Democrats have controlled Congress and the White House for less than three months.  

Doesn’t anyone else remember all the talk following George W. Bush’s election, and especially his re-election, about the “values voters” and coming of a “permanent Republican majority” which would give the GOP ironclad control over the reigns of government for decades to come?

Remind me again: how did that all work out?  

The point is that political fortunes change … and often change rapidly. It is far, far too early to be declaring the Religious Right to be dead based on two elections and three months of Democratic government.

Frankly, the Religious Right’s political clout has never really been tested and so it is hard to know just if they are losing power because whenever the GOP wins elections, the Right is quick to claim credit for mobilizing grassroots support, but when the GOP loses the Right is quick to chalk the loss up to the party’s failure to embrace the right-wing agenda.

There are really only two scenarios under which predictions about the Right’s demise can reliably be made.  The first is a situation in which the GOP nominates a hard-line, right-wing true believer - someone like Rick Santorum - as its presidential candidate and sees that candidate get destroyed nationwide on Election Day.  The second is if the GOP can manage to actually nominate a presidential candidate who is fundamentally unacceptable to the Right – someone like Rudy Giuliani – and then have that candidate go on to win election to the White House.

But until the GOP nominates a true-believer and loses or right-wing heretic and wins, the Religious Right will continue to maintain a very significant amount of control of one of our nation’s two main political parties … and no amount of punditry announcing its demise will change that fact.

Perry Woos the Right With State Address

Given that Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison seems intent on challenging Republican Governor Rick Perry next year, it looks like Perry is getting a head start on sewing up right-wing support as he attempts to hold her off:

Gov. Rick Perry delivered his state of the state address to a joint session of the Legislature as if it were a campaign speech.

...

[W]ith the Republican governor planning to run for re-election next year — and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison preparing to challenge him — there was plenty to energize a conservative, red-meat political base Perry is counting on.

“As we consider the growing threats to our nation’s unborn, I believe it’s time to add another layer of protection for the most vulnerable Texans,” he said.

Perry said pregnant women should be required to see an ultrasound before being allowed to get an abortion. And he advocated adult stem cell research — not embryonic stem cells, a flash point for anti-abortion advocates whom the governor invited as Capitol guests.

“I was thrilled to have him discuss that,” said Joe Pojman of Texas Alliance for Life.

Hutchison supports abortion rights, although with restrictions. Perry’s political team plans to use the issue against her in the GOP primary, where social conservatives will make up about a quarter of the vote.

For those keeping score, Perry spent more time on abortion (seven sentences) than on college tuition (one sentence) or reducing insurance rates and expanding children’s health coverage (zero and zero) ... Tuesday’s speech was a triumph for social conservatives — especially on abortion and Perry’s support of another issue popular with the conservative base — requiring voters to show a photo ID.

“All this stuff, the base really has a passion for,” said Kelly Shackelford of Plano-based Liberty Legal Institute.

Interestingly, Rick Scarborough, who has already made his opposition to Hutchison's intended run well known, was also in attendance and apparently has gotten over his "grave disappointment" in Perry due to the Governor's endorsement of Rudy Giuliani during the GOP primaries:

The governor stood in front of the chamber, the San Jacinto flag behind him. The Rev. Rick Scarborough, an influential East Texas evangelist and Perry guest, applauded from his seat in the back.

Scarborough and Perry have not always seen eye to eye. There was, for example, the governor’s unfortunate support of anti-gun, pro-abortion rights candidate Rudy Giuliani in last year’s presidential race.

“I’ve talked with him about that,” Scarborough said darkly, as if alluding a prodigal son’s wayward years.

Huckabee Picks Up Where He Left Off

One of Mike Huckabee’s favorite strategies during his primary campaign was to show up in local churches for Sunday services and speak from the pulpit.  It was something he did repeatedly and he always insisted that he was there to deliver a sermon, not a political speech, though it was often rather difficult to tell the two apart.

Now that he is out on the trail again, this time selling his new book, it looks like he’s dusted off his favorite play from his campaign playbook:

As guest pastor of a Sunday evening church service at Westside Baptist Church, Mike Huckabee wasted no time joking about his unique situation of delivering a sermon as a former politician who once vied for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination … Although Huckabee, 53, told the congregation he wasn't there "to be political," the first 20 minutes of his 40-minute sermon was sprinkled with references to the presidential election and self-deprecating commentary on his own unsuccessful bid to capture the nomination.

In an interview shortly after signing hundreds of copies of his new book, Huckabee, who now keeps busy hosting a weekly Fox News Channel show, said he's taking it one step at a time.

"It's too early to start thinking about that," he said regarding a possible second bid for the presidency.

Of course Huckabee has to say that it’s too early to be thinking about another presidential run, but considering that he ended his new book with a pretty definitive declaration that he intends to make another run, that is a little hard to believe.

And news like this only serves to make it even harder to believe:   

Barack Obama is more than six weeks away from assuming the presidency, and the next Iowa caucuses are more than three years away, but a national poll out Friday suggests that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin top the list of potential 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls.

Huckabee leads in the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Friday. The survey is an early measure of possible support for the next GOP presidential nomination.  

The margin for error in the poll means that Mike Huckabee (34%) is essentially tied with Sarah Palin (32%), but he still comes in ahead of other possible candidates like Mitt Romney (28%), Newt Gingrich (27%), Rudy Giuliani (23%), and Bobby Jindal (19%).

Inside the Council for National Policy

Sarah Posner sends a dispatch from inside the most recent Council for National Policy gathering, the secretive right-wing umbrella group that vowed to bolt the GOP if Rudy Giuliani was the nominee and whose members wept tears of joy when John McCain tapped Sarah Palin as his running mate:

While the CNP was trying to look to the future last week, it seemed hopelessly enamored of its aging leaders. When I arrived to meet Warren Smith, the conservative evangelical activist and journalist who had invited me to chat, we ambled past anti-evolutionist Ken Ham, who was holding court to a small but rapt audience in the hallway; eyed Left Behind author and CNP co-founder Tim LaHaye, who was shuffling in and out of the "CNP Networking Room;" caught a glimpse of Rick Santorum, who since being booted out of his Senate seat has led the charge against "radical Islam" from his perch at the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center; and spotted the religious right's anti-feminism doyenne Phyllis Schlafly, 84, who had earlier that day delivered a speech to the CNP Youth Council on how to "find your place in the conservative movement."

Although the CNP's meetings are closed to the press, Smith filled me in on some details: Conservative direct-mail entrepreneur Richard Viguerie, a patriarch of the modern conservative movement, rallied the troops by pointing to prior comebacks, from Reagan to Gingrich to Bush. Viguerie, Smith told me, "is saying that we need to fight for conservative ideas and conservative values and not worry about who embraces them." Smith added that the group talked "about changing the culture, entertainment, media, TV" -- a longtime goal of the religious right's dominionism that it seeks to achieve by taking over social, cultural, and government institutions, much like religious-right figures are now plotting their new takeover of the Republican National Committee.

"What I'm hearing is that there is no loyalty to the Republican Party," said Smith, meaning no loyalty to the party as constituted but loyalty to one purged of insufficiently conservative members. "What Richard Viguerie talks about is not a third party but a third wave. Basically there needs to be a flowering of grass-roots conservative activism and local groups, local PACs. He's basically saying you've got a Republican county commissioner in Buzzard's Breath, Texas, and he's not a conservative? Run a conservative against him."

[A]ctivist and radio host Janet Porter, an early Huckabee backer in the 2008 campaign, told me she favored either Palin or Huckabee in 2012. Porter is straight out of the wing of the movement that is all frothing ideology, and no stone-cold strategy. That explains her ongoing fixation with the long-debunked lie that Barack Obama does not have a U.S. birth certificate, and her attempt to stop the electoral college from voting next month in the formality that will officially make him president.

Porter insists that Obama has not produced a U.S. birth certificate (he has) and that he was actually born in Kenya (he was born in Hawaii). She claims to be awaiting the results of the lawsuits filed by attorney Philip J. Berg, whose effort to halt the presidential election because of the alleged question of Obama's U.S. citizenship was rebuffed by the United States Supreme Court.

When I asked Porter about the mood around the CNP meeting, she said, "My mood is more upbeat than those who don't actually know these cases are being filed and that there's actually still a chance to maintain the freedom that we have. We're not going away. Win or lose, whether this goes through, whether it amounts to anything, we just believe that [for] something this important we need the answers. And we're going to fight for freedom, and we're going to use whatever freedom we have until it's taken away with the efforts of hate crimes, ENDA, fairness doctrine, wiping out all the pro-life legislation. Everything's on the line."

My skepticism showed, I suspect. "I think this might be a little more newsworthy than you think," she insisted and handed me a flyer about her effort that read: "Not extreme. Not fringe. Just Constitutional."

Huckabee, Still Bitter About Hagee, Lashes Out At the Right

During his presidential campaign, one of Mike Huckabee’s signature traits was his willingness to publicly complain and whine about some supposed conspiracy among the nation’s Religious Right powerbrokers to refuse to support his candidacy.  And even though the campaign is over and Huckabee now has a lucrative new career on television and radio, it looks like he still hasn’t gotten over it, according to Time’s Michael Scherer who has gotten an early look at his new book:    

Many conservative Christian leaders, who never backed Huckabee despite their holding very similar stances on social issues, are spared neither the rod nor the lash. Huckabee writes of Gary Bauer, the conservative Christian leader and former presidential candidate, as having an "ever-changing reason to deny me his support." Of one private meeting with Bauer, Huckabee says, "it was like playing Whac-a-Mole at the arcade — whatever issue I addressed, another one surfaced as a 'problem' that made my candidacy unacceptable." He accuses Bauer of putting the issue of national security before bedrock social issues like the sanctity of life and traditional marriage.

Huckabee describes other elders of the social conservative movement, many of whom meet in private as part of an organization called the Arlington Group, as "more enamored with the process, the political strategies, and the party hierarchy than with the simple principles that had originally motivated the Founders." Later Huckabee writes, "I lamented that so many people of faith had moved from being prophetic voices — like Naaman, confronting King David in his sin and saying, 'Though art the man!'— to being voices of patronage, and saying to those in power, 'You da' man!' "

He calls out Pat Robertson, the Virginia-based televangelist, and Dr. Bob Jones III, chancellor of Bob Jones University in South Carolina, for endorsing Rudy Giuliani and Romney, respectively. He also has words for the Texas-based Rev. John Hagee, who endorsed the more moderate John McCain in the primaries, as someone who was drawn to the eventual Republican nominee because of the lure of power. Huckabee speaks to Hagee by phone before the McCain endorsement, while the former Arkansas governor is preparing for a spot on Saturday Night Live. "I asked if he had prayed about this and believed this was what the Lord wanted him to do," Huckabee writes of his conversation with Hagee. "I didn't get a straight answer." Months later, McCain rejected Hagee's endorsement because of controversial remarks the pastor had made about biblical interpretations.

So Huckabee is calling Hagee a sell-out for backing McCain instead of him, even knowing that McCain was eventually forced to disassociate himself from him because of Hagee’s outrageous views?  Doesn’t it seem odd that instead of thinking that maybe he dodged a bullet by not getting Hagee’s support, Huckabee is still mad about it?

Of course, Hagee’s support for Huckabee probably wouldn’t have been especially noteworthy since his ultra-right-wing views were no different than those esposed by his other supporters like on Don Wildmon, Janet Porter, Rick Scarborough, and Tim and Beverly LaHaye.

But considering that Huckabee is mulling over a future presidential run, it seems a little counterproductive to start badmouthing the very people from whom he’ll need support the next time around, especially since their lack of support this time was what helped to doom his campaign.

James Dobson Explains Himself

Today, James Dobson dedicated his radio program to reading out, word for word, Focus on the Family’s October newsletter [PDF] in which he explains why he is now supporting the McCain-Palin ticket, though he continues to insist that he is not offering an endorsement:

It’s probably obvious which of the two major party candidates’ views are most palatable to those of us who embrace a pro-life, pro-family worldview. While I will not endorse either candidate this year, I can say that I am now supportive of Senator John McCain and his bid for the presidency.… In recent weeks, I have received some measure of criticism from those who feel that my “change of heart” toward John McCain is unwarranted. I understand those views and concede that the Senator continues to embrace positions that concern me. I don’t apologize, however, for reevaluating our options in this election year.

Dobson then lays out the four developments that caused him to change his mind: the Saddleback Forum; the GOP platform, Obama’s “liberal views,” and McCain’s decision to pick Sarah Palin as his running mate: 

Here is a woman who is a deeply committed Christian, and who is pro-life not only with regard to her policies, but in her personal life. She and her husband welcomed their latest child, Trig, into the world even though he was diagnosed with Down syndrome while still in the womb. Approximately 90 percent of babies with Down syndrome are aborted, but Governor Palin carried her precious child to term and now loves and cares for him despite the challenges associated with a special needs child. Similarly, her teenage daughter, Bristol, who became pregnant out of wedlock, could have bowed to cultural pressure to seek an abortion. Instead, she and the father plan to get married and raise their child together. Governor Palin has been married for 20 years, and by all accounts, she is a portrait of Christian motherhood and womanhood.

Of serious concern to Dobson is the possibility that Democrats in the next Congress will unleash a “wave of anti-family, pro-homosexual legislation,” such as ENDA, which are direct threats to Christians: 

Large portions of the agenda promoted by homosexual activists will also be enacted. The implications for a federal hate crimes law are clear. People speaking against homosexuality have already been prosecuted under hate crimes laws both in the United States and abroad. If a federal hate crimes law passes, there will be little to prevent the government from endeavoring to control and curtail religious speech, especially from the pulpit. It is entirely possible that a pastor could be charged with inducing a federal hate crime simply by preaching from one of the many biblical passages that address homosexuality.

Dobson is likewise motivated by the importance of determining the future of the Supreme Court:

The importance of [electing a pro-family, pro-life President] cannot be overstated. Between 2009 and 2012, there will likely be two or more opportunities for the President to nominate new justices to the Supreme Court. Some court watchers say there could be as many as four resignations. That alone should give us serious pause as we consider for whom to cast our votes. In the months ahead, the Supreme Court will likely hand down rulings that will impact America for generations to come. We need a President who will nominate conservative, strict-constructionist judges to the Court. If that doesn’t happen, the highest court in the land could become stacked—even more than it already is—with justices who will endeavor to legislate from the bench and impose a liberal agenda on the nation. It will likely affect the definition of marriage, religious freedom, and the protection (or lack thereof) of life in the womb.

As I noted last year when Dobson was threatening to bolt the GOP if Rudy Giuliani secured the nomination, petulant threats from him are becoming an election year tradition … and just like with every other threat he’s issued to the party, when crunch time comes, Dobson eventually falls back in line.

The Ever-Principled James Dobson

It was just five months ago that James Dobson declared unequivocally that he would not, under any circumstances, ever support John McCain for president, saying “I cannot, and I will not, vote for Sen. John McCain, as a matter of conscience.”   In fact, so opposed to McCain was Dobson that he went so far as to organize an effort to secure one million signatures in opposition to McCain’s nomination and then publicly reiterated his vehement opposition to his nomination just a few months later.  

But wouldn’t you know it, like every other craven political calculation and empty threat he has ever made, Dobson has changed his mind and concluded that Barack Obama is such a monumental threat to this nation that he almost has no other choice but to blatantly violate his own conscience for the greater good of the Republican Party:

Conservative Christian leader James Dobson has softened his stance against Republican presidential hopeful John McCain, saying he could reverse his position and endorse the Arizona senator despite serious misgivings.

"I never thought I would hear myself saying this," Dobson said in a radio broadcast to air Monday. "... While I am not endorsing Senator John McCain, the possibility is there that I might."

So why is Dobson suddenly changing his tune?  In short, he is absolutely terrified of Obama:

He is also supportive of the entire gay activist agenda.  We're not just talking about showing respect for people and equal rights for all citizens of the United States.  It’s not referring to it in those terms. He’s talking about homosexual marriage. I mean, he makes no bones about that. He's talking about hate crimes legislation which would limit religious liberty, I have no doubt about that, that ministers and others - people like us - are going to very quickly be prohibited from expressing your faith and your theology on certain views.  … Just so many aspects of his views on that issue that keep me awake at night frankly … that he is so extreme, that he does threaten traditional family life and pro-moral values … This has been the most difficult moral dilemma for me.  It’s why you haven’t heard me say much about it because I have struggled on this issue.  And there are some concerns here that matter to me more than my own life and neither of the candidates is consistent with my views in that regard. But Senator McCain is certainly closer to them then Senator Obama, by a wide margin. And there's no doubt, at least no doubt in my mind, about whose policies will result in more babies being killed. Or who will do the greatest damage to the institution of marriage and the family. I'm convinced that Senator McCain comes closer to what I believe. So I am not endorsing Senator McCain today … But as of this moment, I have to take into account the fact that Senator John McCain has voted pro-life consistently and that's a fact. He says he favors marriage between a man and a woman, I believe that. He opposes homosexual adoption. He favors smaller government and lower taxes and he seems to understand the Muslim threat, which matters a lot to me – I am very concerned about that.

Below is the full transcript of today’s program in which Dobson and the Southern Baptist Convention's Al Mohler explain just how “alarming” Barack Obama’s political and theological views are and the dire threat he poses to “traditional family life and pro-moral values":

Feuding Anti-Abortion Activists Agree: Obama Bad

When Randall Terry, founder of the militant anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, recently sued Troy Newman over the use of the name, he certainly opened up a can of worms.

A number of former OR activists issued a statement on Newman’s behalf, calling for Terry’s repentance for “unbiblical lifestyle decisions”; “[W]e can no longer remain silent while Mr. Terry continues to fleece unsuspecting pro-life people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars for his personal and selfish gain,” they added. Terry responded with his own list of supporters vouching for his character.

And Flip Benham, who runs Operation Rescue/Operation Save America, put aside his distaste for Terry (“Giving more money to Randall Terry is like giving booze to an alcoholic,” he has said) to attack both Newman and the former OR activists who criticized Terry. “These are the same ones who would not stand with Operation Rescue leadership in the fall of 1993 and call the premeditated shooting (murder) of abortionists, sin,’” wrote Benham, recalling the darkest period of the militant anti-abortion movement.

But while Flip Benham’s Operation Rescue and Troy Newman’s Operation Rescue remain locked in their bitter name dispute, there is at least one thing they can agree on: Barack Obama.

Newman’s OR called for anti-abortion activists to descend upon an Obama appearance at the National Council of La Raza convention in San Diego this past weekend:

“Abortionists are famous for targeting minority communities and those who are most vulnerable. When Obama throws his support behind the abortion industry, he is also tacitly supporting the exploitation of Latinos and African Americans,” said Operation Rescue spokesperson Cheryl Sullenger. “Operation Rescue urges all pro-life supporters in the San Diego area to let their voices be heard in protest of Obama’s extremist abortion policies, and his tacit approval of the abortion industry’s despicable pattern of racial exploitation.”

Meanwhile, Benham’s group is conducting an anti-abortion campaign in Atlanta, which doesn’t seem to have much to do with Obama. But in announcing a church OR plans to picket, the group adds:

According to their bulletin, this is a UCC church which will host the Human Rights Campaign Gospel Concert. The HRC is the largest group advocating gay & lesbian rights and the UCC is the denomination of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Barak Obama. For the first time in the history of our nation, we have a man running for president who is neither a Christian nor a patriot.

Lest John McCain get too excited about this new source of support, they don’t have a whole lot of nice things to say about him, either. Benham wrote back in October, “[T]here is no way we true evangelical Christians will support Giuliani, McCain, Thompson, or Romney.”

And Randall Terry, who led a small band of protesters against GOP candidate Rudy Giuliani over the winter, recycled the same language (“an enemy inside your camp”) for McCain in an interview with Playboy:

Q: What impact would a John McCain presidency have on the pro-life agenda?

A: If McCain would appoint judges who would overturn Roe, it could be a huge boon. I don’t think we have any assurance that would happen. Justices Anthony Kennedy, David Souter and Sandra Day O’Connor were all appointed by Republican presidents who did not do their homework. If presidents Reagan and Bush Sr. had done what they said they would do, we would already have overturned Roe because we wouldn’t have had Kennedy, Souter and O’Connor. There’s a very strong movement afoot in the conservative wing of the Republican Party to deny McCain the White House. Their attitude is, an enemy outside your camp makes you vigilant and unites you, but an enemy inside your camp makes you dead because he can cut your neck in the night or poison your food by day.

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Rudy Giuliani Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Tuesday 08/02/2011, 1:33pm
OnThe 700 Club with Pat Robertson today, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee said that he decided against running for president partly because the Republican base is too “unrealistic.” Robertson, who endorsed Rudy Giuliani in 2008, asked Huckabee if he passed on a second presidential campaign in order to pursue his new career as a Fox News commentator and the head of a line of conservative history videos, which he was promoting on the show. Huckabee responded, “I felt like the atmosphere right now is so toxic and part of it is that I think that many people in my party,... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 07/18/2011, 5:56pm
Towleroad: Rudy Giuliani Tells GOP To Lay Off Gay Marriage. Alvin McEwen: Marcus Bachmann lies again - 'Barbarian' tape not doctored. Joe Sudbay @ Americablog: Leader of discredited ex-gay movement compares it to Weight Watchers. Frances Martel @ Mediaite: Fox & Friends: Romney ‘Obviously Not Being A Christian’ Helps Perry Run. Robin Marty @ RH Reality Check: Kansas Considers "Heartbeat" Ban. Nick @ Bold Faith Type: Herman Cain Contradicts Himself on 'Separation of Church and State.' MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 06/03/2011, 5:41pm
Richard Land says the Religious Right is ready to vote for a Mormon ... as a last resort. Jack Kevorkian has died. Rudy Giuliani just never learns. Quote of the day from Matt Barber: "[The] homosexual activist political tsunami destroys everything in its path that is righteous, good and beneficial to society." Finally, speaking of Barber, he and Mat Staver have nothing but great things to say about MassResistance. MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 05/25/2011, 5:33pm
Every time you think the Birthers can't get any more ridiculous, they prove you wrong. Molotov Mitchell explains that even though the Bible prohibits tattoos, it totally doesn't mean it. A two-hour movie all about how great Sarah Palin is?  I won't be watching that. Because it went so well last time, Rudy Giuliani is apparently thinking of making another run for president. Peter LaBarber's obsession with all things gay continues. Finally, Timothy Miller pled not guilty to charges of helping Lisa Miller kidnap her daughter and flee the country. MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 04/05/2011, 10:02am
Michele Bachmann Iowa: Hires Mike Huckabee’s former state director for campaign (MN Public Radio, 4/4). Religious Right: Slated to speak at Family Leader events (Des Moines Register, 4/4). Fundraising: Tops Mitt Romney in fundraising (Time, 4/1). Obama: Says President Obama is deliberately damaging the economy (RWW, 3/31). Haley Barbour 2012: Wife concerned about presidential race, says bid “horrifies” her (Reuters, 4/2). Mississippi: Economic conservatives criticize Barbour’s record as governor (Politico, 4/2). Poll: Trails Huckabee in poll of home state’s... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 01/25/2011, 10:59am
Michele Bachmann SOTU: Plans to give her own State of the Union Response to a Tea Party Express rally, even though Wisconsin Rep. Jim Ryan is the official Republican speaker (Star Tribune, 1/24). History: Maintains that skin color didn’t matter in early America at an Iowans for Tax Reform event (TPM, 1/24). Religious Right: Addressed the “March for Life” Rose Dinner (Politico, 1/24). Iowa: “Encouraged” by reception at Iowa events (Des Moines Register, 1/22). Religious Right: Set to attend a meeting of Iowa’s The Family Leader, led by Bob Vander Plaats... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 01/25/2011, 10:59am
Michele Bachmann SOTU: Plans to give her own State of the Union Response to a Tea Party Express rally, even though Wisconsin Rep. Jim Ryan is the official Republican speaker (Star Tribune, 1/24). History: Maintains that skin color didn’t matter in early America at an Iowans for Tax Reform event (TPM, 1/24). Religious Right: Addressed the “March for Life” Rose Dinner (Politico, 1/24). Iowa: “Encouraged” by reception at Iowa events (Des Moines Register, 1/22). Religious Right: Set to attend a meeting of Iowa’s The Family Leader, led by Bob Vander Plaats... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 01/21/2011, 6:34pm
Mat Staver says Americans United is "out to literally destroy America." Rudy Giuliani is "absolutely" thinking about running again in 2012. Mike Huckabee will wait until at least the summer before making a decision about running in 2012. The Thomas More Law Center has a rather unique reason for suing over the government bailout of AIG. Finally, Sen. Jim DeMint joins the Religious Right's boycott of CPAC. MORE >