Rudy Giuliani

'Patriot Pastors' ... for Huckabee?

Rick Scarborough, a pioneer in organizing churches around partisan politics, has seen his national stature rise dramatically in the last few years—the Texas ex-pastor even starred on CNN’s “God’s Warriors” series—but he’s also faced some setbacks. His “Patriot Pastors” strategy was dealt a blow last November when voters in South Dakota rejected an abortion ban and Missourians voted in favor of embryonic stem cell research, despite non-stop church-based organizing by Scarborough in both states up to Election Day. He also discovered the fact, known by most other political advocacy groups, that full-time lobbying or organizing for or against legislation is not tax-deductible—a sad day for him.

And his latest “Patriot Pastors” campaign—the ambitious70 Weeks to Save America” tour that was to culminate on Election Day 2008—has apparently suffered from a lack of media coverage, spotty participation, and finally abandonment by Scarborough’s partner, Alan Keyes, who is running for president again. “Needless to say, this created a serious reevaluation of our whole program to register voters and to educate Christians through our Seventy Week campaign,” wrote Scarborough, who announced that sparser church events would be “augment[ed]” by voter registration drives and rallies at state capitols, “followed by an all out effort to move Values Voters to vote their values on Election Day '08.”

But sometimes opportunity knocks. Joining Randy Brinson, head of the embattled Christian Coalition of Alabama as well as a voter-registration outfit, Scarborough is bringing his “Patriot Pastors” act to the Iowa caucuses:

Beginning December 6, Vision America will be joining forces with RedeemtheVote.com in an effort to mobilize thousands of Values Voters all over Iowa as we barnstorm the state for ten days. We have been offered the use of a bus that has been especially designed for rallies, complete with a roll out stage, satellites on the roof to connect with the worldwide media, loud speakers and spotlights.

We will be working with the Iowa Family Policy Institute as well as the Iowa Christian Alliance, two very aggressive and effective pro-family organizations. Our goal is to host three rallies a day as we crisscross the state, registering thousands of voters and mobilizing tens of thousands to vote their values during the Iowa caucuses in January.

"Fox News," "US News and World Report," and other national media have expressed interest in covering this groundbreaking event as we travel the length and breadth of this important state.

Scarborough’s “One Day Crusades” this year have so far been focused on next year’s general election. Why the sudden interest in the Republican presidential primary? Well, Scarborough has heartily endorsed his former seminary classmate, Mike Huckabee, as has Brinson. And media are reporting that Huckabee has a shot of winning the Iowa caucus.

While Scarborough’s help may or may not push Huckabee over the edge in Iowa, the activist is still hedging his bets. After all, Rudy Giuliani still leads in national polls, and some have speculated that Huckabee’s surge ultimately benefits Giuliani by siphoning off far-right support for Mitt Romney. Scarborough has publicly waffled over whether he would support Giuliani were he nominated, but while he’s said Giuliani’s stance on abortion is unacceptable, he’s also been giving himself some wiggle room. Radical Islam, he said recently, is “the ultimate life issue."

Is The Right Driving Moderate Republicans Away?

There have been a few articles in recent days suggesting that moderate Republicans are growing increasingly weary of the stranglehold the Religious Right has had on the Republican Party for the last several years and that efforts by presidential candidates to pander to the likes of James Dobson, Tony Perkins, and Pat Robertson are only alienating them further:

Scott Reed, who managed Republican Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign, sees three overlapping problems for Republicans among business leaders and high-income voters. One is desire to go with the winning side at a time when Democrats have captured Congress; a second is loss of confidence in the Bush administration's competence; and a third is "a sense that the leadership of the Republican Party is too beholden to a small group of self-appointed social conservative leaders."

Apparently, Rudy Giuliani’s campaign was initially a cause for hope for some moderate Republicans, but those hopes have been dashed ever since he started promising to nominate right-wing ideologues to the federal courts and cozying up with the likes of Robertson:

Moderate Republicans in Iowa, eclipsed for years by the party's social conservatives, were looking forward to the 2008 caucuses.

After all, they had a candidate — Rudy Giuliani — who said early in his campaign that he could win in Iowa by attracting moderate Republicans and reinvigorating one-time GOP caucusgoers who had turned away from the party.

So far, it hasn't worked out that way, according to once-loyal Republicans who have felt pushed aside by the party's right wing.

"When Pat Robertson comes out and endorses him, that was the final straw for me," said former state Rep. Betty Grundberg, a Des Moines Republican who had flirted with supporting Giuliani. "I don't buy that this signals a united party. This shows me who he is more concerned about attracting."

...

[S]ome former Republicans say their hopes for 2008 have turned to alienation.

"I've left the party. I am no longer a Republican," said Dottie Carpenter of Des Moines, who served as a Republican in the Iowa House of Representatives for 14 years until 1995. "I'm sick and tired of every candidate for the Republican nomination kowtowing to the religious right."

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.  

Right Wing Showdown on M Street

It appears as if the rift forming in the Right over which candidate, if any, to back in the Republican Presidential primary has been exponentially exacerbated by Pat Robertson’s decision to back Rudy Giuliani. 

And while many of his erstwhile allies have limited themselves to publicly blasting Robertson for his decision, it looks as if Randall Terry and whatever remains of Operation Rescue are set to turn the whole thing, as they always do, into a public spectacle:

"I am literally sick to my stomach over Dr. Robertson's decision. He wrote a forward to my book, Operation Rescue, I have been on the 700 Club, I have spoken at Regent University, CBN helped me get started in radio, and the attorneys of the ACLJ have been heroic advocates for our pro-life mission.

"This is what happens when a leader puts party ahead of principle; it corrupts ones ability to reason consistently. We can only pray that this horrific decision of Dr. Robertson is ignored by the 'Christian Right' and the 'Christian Coalition,' and that he comes to his senses quickly. God have mercy on him, and give long life to him."

Demonstration at CBN, with News Conference

When: Saturday, November 10, 1:30 – 2:30 P.M. (ET)

Where: CBN Washington DC Headquarters, 1919 M Street, NW, between 19th and 20th.

Who: Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, and pro-life activists from the Washington DC area.

Who Speaks for the Right?

There has been a lot of head-scratching and dismay about what is driving Pat Robertson’s endorsement of Rudy Giuliani, especially from those on the Right:

OneNewsNow:

OneNewsNow contacted several pro-family leaders to get their reaction to the Robertson endorsement. Some did not return calls, while others said they did not want to comment. One of them, a close personal friend of Robertson, said he believes the endorsement is "tragic," and that if Giuliani wins the nomination, it "will destroy the Republican Party."

Family Research Council:

Connie Mackey, a senior vice president of the Family Research Council, disputed Robertson's contention that Giuliani was an acceptable candidate for Christian conservatives.

"This is a man whose supporters basically are pro-family, pro-life, pro-traditional-marriage, and here he has stepped away from them to endorse a candidate who has been very honest in saying he does not support those issues," Mackey said of Robertson. "It's beyond puzzling -- it's a little strange."

FRC’s Mackey again:

Many former Christian conservative allies dismissed the endorsement as an inexplicable stunt. They noted that Mr. Robertson, 77, had lost much of his influence since the heady days of his second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses 20 years ago when he ran for the Republican presidential nomination.

“What support he has left,” said Connie Mackey, a vice president of the public policy arm of the evangelical Family Research Council, “is obviously going to be eroded by this very strange endorsement.”

Rick Scarborough:

"This endorsement is a grave disappointment and illustrates the confusion in the evangelical ranks," said the Rev. Rick Scarborough of the Lufkin-based group Vision America.

Iowa Christian Alliance:

"Social conservatives such as Pat Robertson who back pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage candidates do a disservice to the conservative movement. At the end of the day, we have to stand for something, or our movement has no purpose.”

Joseph Farah:

With his endorsement of Rudy Giuliani for president of the United States, he has me doubting him – big time … Has Robertson lost his mind? Has he lost his principles? Has he sold out? If so, to whom and for what?

The interesting subtext to this development is Robertson’s apparent belief that it is he who really speaks for GOP’s right-wing’ core supporters:

"I thought it was important for me to make it clear that Rudy Giuliani is more than acceptable to people of faith," said Robertson. "Given the fractured nature of the process, I thought it was time to solidify around one candidate."

He insisted that while some on the "fringe" of the social conservative movement may see Giuliani as an unacceptable nominee, the "core know better."

Ever since the decline of his once-powerful Christian Coalition, Robertson has been something of the odd-man-out in the world of right-wing DC powerbrokers, eclipsed by the likes of the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family.  While the various cliques on the Right are willing to mingle and attend one another’s conferences and events, Robertson has never been included and it clearly irks him, especially since the joint FRC/FOF “Values Voter Summit” has replaced the Christian Coalition’s now defunct “Road to Victory” conferences as the year’s major Religious Right showcase.

When David Brody of Robertson’s own CBN News filed a report last month on the Values Voter Summit, Robertson could barely hide his contempt:

I’m not sure that that group in Washington is really representative of Evangelicals across the spectrum.  This Is the Family Research Council and some of James Dobson’s supporters – I just think that’s a narrow slice of Evangelical thought.  

It is quite possible that Robertson’s endorsement of Giuliani was, at least in part, an attempt to reclaim some of his flagging influence while generating some attention for himself  that, for once, doesn’t stem from his having said something idiotic.  

The Perils of Wooing Pat Robertson

In endorsing Rudy Giuliani today, Pat Robertson made clear that his support was based on his belief that Giuliani was the candidate best suited to defend “our population from the blood lust of Islamic terrorists,” but also sought to entice other right-wing leaders and voters to back him based on his promise to place ideologues on the Supreme Court:

Uppermost in the minds of social conservatives is the selection of future Supreme Court justices and lower court judges who will sit in both the federal circuit courts and the district courts … He understands the need for a conservative judiciary and with the help of the distinguished Ted Olson, who is here today, and other members of his team, has assured the American people that his choices for judicial appointments will be men and women who share the judicial philosophy of John Roberts and Antonin Scalia.

Watch video of Robertson endorsing Giuliani here.

With Robertson now backing Giuliani’s agenda, perhaps someone should ask Giuliani if he likewise backs Robertson’s:  

Huckabee and Giuliani: BFF?

The Swamp notes that Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee have suddenly started saying nice things about one another, with Giuliani saying that Huckabee makes him laugh and that he has “great respect for him” while Huckabee appeared to defend Giuliani’s anti-abortion claims.    

It is not surprising that Giuliani would be making nice with Huckabee, considering that Huckabee is a becoming increasingly popular with the right-wing base Giuliani so desperately needs to win over, having come out on top at the Values Voter Debate in Florida, which Giuliani blatantly snubbed, and having “won” the straw poll at the Values Voter Summit, where Giuliani came in second to last.  Perhaps Giuliani is recognizing that, in the words of Rich Lowry, Huckabee could be a “natural fit” as his vice presidential candidate should he win the GOP nomination. 

But it is odd that Huckabee would return the favor, considering that elsewhere he is criticizing Sam Brownback for even thinking of supporting Giuliani:

During a lunch with reporters on Tuesday in which a confident Huckabee insisted he can win the GOP nomination and general election, the former governor said that he reached out to Brownback the day the senator withdrew from the race and that he wants Brownback’s support.

“It makes perfect sense. It’s a good fit for a lot of Sen. Brownback’s supporters,” Huckabee said. “I would be shocked if he endorsed Mayor Giuliani.”

Huckabee said he would be surprised because on the issues Brownback was so “adamant” about during his failed presidential run, namely abortion rights, Brownback and Giuliani are “at opposite ends of the political spectrum.”

Huckabee also refused to say definitively that he would support whoever the eventually GOP nominee is, calling that a hypothetical question. He did say he would have trouble supporting the candidacy of Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) in the unlikely event the insurgent candidate won the nomination.

Huckabee is clearly feeling confident about his chances in light of his increased fundraising and rise in the polls - so much so that he is amping up his criticism of those right-wing leaders who have so far refused to back him:  

Huckabee continued to dismiss the criticisms of social conservative leaders like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Gary Bauer of American Values. The conservative leaders have said in recent weeks that Huckabee lacks the foreign policy credentials to win their support or that of the American people.

“They would never have gotten behind Ronald Reagan,” Huckabee said, adding that some past presidents like Reagan who were originally thought to be novices on foreign policy emerged as heroes in that arena because they had “character and clear convictions.”

This is not the first time Huckabee has gone after the Religious Right’s political leaders over this, but this is a pretty hard hitting criticism … after all, saying they wouldn’t have supported Reagan is the political equivalent of calling them Pharisees.   

The GOP's Hillary Primary

Mitt Romney may have officially “won” the straw poll at the Values Voter Summit; Mike Huckabee may have been the crowd favorite; and what to do about Rudy Giuliani may have been the biggest question mark; but of all the presidential candidates, the one most talked about at the right-wing conference was Hillary Clinton. “Bill Clinton,” Tom Tancredo warned, is “now measuring the drapes in the Oval Office.” Rep. Jean Schmidt urged Giuliani rejectionists to realize “how important it is that we stand behind whatever candidate comes out that will be her rival, and stand behind that person, whether we agree with all their opinions and values or not. Because if we don’t, you will have that woman in power.”

Libertarian journalism David Weigel, moonlighting at the paleoconservative American Conservative magazine, notes that the visceral hatred many on the Right have for Sen. Clinton could be the only thing that holds the movement and the GOP together, at least in the hopes of Republican strategists:

It’s a balmy, beer-drinking evening in the middle of August, and the conservatives trickling in to a meeting of the Robert A. Taft Club can’t enjoy it. They’re mostly under-30 Washington professionals, and they’re fed up with the Republican Party. They think George W. Bush’s bumbling and ideological hat-trading have reduced the conservative movement to a pitiable, piddling state. If Karl Rove stepped inside, he’d come out looking like Oscar de la Hoya after a bout gone wrong.

They settle into a debate about the future of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. Panelists take turns whipping the party for its sins. “We beat them on immigration,” says Richard Viguerie, the direct-mail pioneer, “but right now, we just don’t have the strength or the resources to affect public policy the way we want to.” He beseeches the crowd to help save the movement, but that gets a muted reaction. So he steps it up: “I still think that in the short term, as many problems as we have right now, Hillary Clinton can bring conservatives back together.”

The name does the trick: soft laughter moves around the room. Keeping Hillary out of the White House is literally the only motivation some conservatives have to pull the Republican lever in 2008, especially if their party nominates a pro-choice candidate for the first time since 1976.

While many Republicans are crossing their fingers that a Clinton nomination will stir up the right-wing id into a frenzy of resentment, bringing back the anti-Clinton rhetoric of the 1990s—whether about Vince Foster or strong women—is not necessarily a recipe for victory. There will always be a core group that feeds off of even the most disgusting anti-Hillary marketing, but as Weigel points out, translating that into broader political success is another matter. GOP hatchet men started Stop Her Now and the Stop Hillary PAC to raise millions to prevent Clinton’s reelection to the Senate in 2006, but they hardly raised thousands. Even the steady stream of anti-Clinton books have fallen flat in sales.

That doesn’t mean it will stop. The Republican National Committee is already running against Clinton. We can probably expect Republican candidates, especially Giuliani, to keep taking Clinton as their de facto running mate unless and until the primaries prove otherwise, providing a foil always good for applause lines.

Brownbacking Giuliani?

Is Sam Brownback going to endorse Rudy Giuliani? The Hill reports that the two are slated to meet: "Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) is considering endorsing Rudy Giuliani for the GOP presidential nomination and will meet with him Thursday in Washington to hear his views on abortion."

Land: Voting for Giuliani Like Voting for a Klansman

Richard Land gave a wide-ranging interview to Newsweek in which he discussed the Religious Right’s current disarray and the possibility that they will leave the Republican Party if Rudy Giuliani becomes the nominee:  

NEWSWEEK: So we wanted to ask you, first of all, about the third party idea and whether it's serious. A number of people are suggesting it is just a threat.

Land: My intuition [is that] this is not a bluff. If Giuliani is the nominee, there will be a third party. There are things that Giuliani could do to help mitigate the damage … This is not a bluff.

While Land sees it as inevitable that many of his ideological allies will bolt the GOP if this happens, he does not appear to be among them, saying that he “won't do anything to help formulate a third party.” 

Land also had an interesting view on why Mike Huckabee isn’t gaining more traction among the Right: 

We met with Gov. Huckabee recently, and he said, "Well, why don't they vote for me right now? They've got me. Why do they need a third-party candidate?"

Land : Well, I think if anybody other than Giuliani is the nominee, there won't be a third party.

NEWSWEEK : But his point is that you are not helping him to beat Giuliani.

Land : Well, that's not my job. That's Governor Huckabee's job. I just encourage people to vote their values and their beliefs and their convictions, and when I am asked why Huckabee isn't doing better, I can only answer that that's up to the voters.

Land obviously doesn’t think this standard applies to Fred Thompson, since he has spent months gushing over Thompson and defending him at every opportunity in an effort to help him win over “values voters.”   

Newsweek then asked Land what Giuliani might be able to do to possibly win them over, to which Land set out a series of anti-choice benchmarks, among them a pledge to “only appoint strict constructionists” to the federal courts.  When Newsweek pointed out that Giuliani has, in fact, done that repeatedly, Land was not impressed and responded by comparing support for reproductive choice to the KKK:  

NEWSWEEK :  When Rudy says "I will appoint strict constructionist judges," you are not hearing that?

Land: I hear it. I hear it.

NEWSWEEK: Well, you don't hear Hillary saying that.

Land: [Land turns to question a Newsweek reporter] Could you vote for a Klansman?

[Reporter responds] No.

You've answered my question.

Just How Fractured Is the Right?

Ever since the news broke that many right-wing leaders were considering abandoning the Republican Party if Rudy Giuliani secures the presidential nomination, lots of ink has been spilled speculating about just how serious they are about carrying out the threat and discussing what it could mean for the 2008 election. 

Today, Bloomberg ran an article that pretty well encapsulates the utter confusion plaguing the movement at the moment by quoting a variety of leaders and activists, none of whom seem to agree with each other:

- “I am asking them to at least consider Voltaire's question: Do you make the perfect the enemy of the good?'' said Richard Land, a leader of the 16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention, based in Nashville.

- If Clinton, 59, wins, “her administration would declare war on social conservatives,'' Bauer said. “She'll go after conservative talk radio, she'll go after Christian radio' … Bauer said that with some “serious negotiations'' over his platform, religious conservatives could find a way to support Giuliani. He declined to provide specifics, citing a need to maintain his bargaining position if Giuliani is the Republican nominee.

- “Some leaders will hold to principle and will not vote for someone who is pro-abortion,'' said Tom Minnery, the political director of Focus on the Family.

- Michael Farris, the chancellor of Patrick Henry College, an evangelical school in Purcellville, Virginia, said he would consider supporting Giuliani only if “he named my mother as vice president.''

- “The entire conservative movement is going to be united because Hillary is going to be on the ballot and the Supreme Court is going to be at stake,'' said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, a Washington-based anti- tax advocacy group.  Land sees things differently. “I know a lot more evangelicals than Grover does,'' he said. “If Giuliani is the nominee, Grover will be shocked.'

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.

Right Wing Leaders to Meet Again

Salon reports that "Key conservative and religious leaders will continue discussing a mass defection from the Republican Party in a private meeting at a Washington hotel Saturday afternoon, just hours after the pro-choice presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani speaks before thousands of pro-life voters."

The Day After (a Giuliani Primary Win)

Robert Novak points out a slight problem with the threat by religious-right activists to bolt the Republican Party if Rudy Giuliani wins its nomination: Their supposed constituency may not follow.

The most surprising recent national polling result was an answer given by Republicans who attend church weekly when Gallup asked their presidential preference. A plurality chose Rudy Giuliani, a Catholic who in 1999 said: "I don't attend regularly, but I attend occasionally." … The Gallup data suggests that Dobson and the Salt Lake City group may be out of touch with rank-and-file churchgoers.

As W. James Antle of the American Spectator put it, “Giuliani has cleverly pitched himself as the Republican best equipped to confront two challenges that concern religious conservatives: Hillary Clinton at home and radical Islam abroad.” Which may put the political influence of James Dobson—who has sworn to vote against Giuliani in a general election—in a precarious position.

Gary Bauer, who has apparently been spending the last few weeks trying to undo what Dobson has done, is trying to leave the door open in the case of a Giuliani nomination, saying that religious-right leaders would have to “sit down” and have some “serious discussions” about “avoid[ing] a split that would guarantee a disaster.” For example, they might negotiate some concessions from the candidate. In the Weekly Standard, Bauer and Tony Perkins say that while Giuliani would be a “hard sell,” the candidate could “help” his case by announcing that he would “pledge to do nothing--either by executive order or by signing legislation--that would increase the number of abortions.”

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. 

Scarborough Can’t Make Up His Mind

Back in February, Vision America’s Rick Scarborough was one of the first to throw down the gauntlet regarding the possibility of Rudy Giuliani winning the Republican nomination and raise the specter of a bolting the party all together should that happen:

The fact that Rudy Giuliani is polling at above 35% should awaken Values Voters to the reality that America desperately needs revival. Christians should be no more inclined to vote for a pro-choice, pro-gay, anti-gun candidate than homosexual activists are inclined to vote for Jerry Falwell or D. James Kennedy.

We must pray and work toward securing a candidate that we can not only vote for, but get excited about when we go to the polls.

And we should be ready to go outside the Republican Party if it refuses to give us such a candidate. Christians must always remember that we are followers of Christ, not pawns of a party which often wants to dance with us before the election but then ditches us right after the final vote count.

But then, when other right-wing leaders recently echoed Scarborough’s call and made exactly the same point, Scarborough suddenly backtracked:

To all of that I say emphatically, “Grow UP!!!” When I hear my friends, and people I admire, saying that they will either stay home or go to a third party, I lose my patience. Five years ago I stepped out of a good pastorate to devote my full attention to educating pastors and congregations on what Christian citizenship truly means and teach them why Christians, of all people, should and must stay engaged. Now some of the men who most inspired me to get involved are acting like our movement is dead and the cause is lost.

I for one do not intend to sit idly by and allow evil to triumph because good men choose to do nothing--or worse, do the wrong thing. I have often said in speeches to churches, “the only thing worse than not voting, is voting without a clue as to what you are voting for.” When it comes time for the ‘08 elections, we must be armed with truth and determined to vote our values. If enough of us do that, we will get a president who will make the right choice when it comes to nominating judges. In ’08, it’s all about the judges! … We may have to hold our nose as we vote in ‘08, but we must and we will vote.

And now it appears as if Scarborough has changed his mind once again:

Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America, a Texas-based group that has a network of 5,000 pastors willing to mobilize their churches to vote, was at the recent meeting of those who threatened to back a third-party candidate, and he said they were not just bluffing.

“I am not going to cast a sacred vote granted to me by the blood of millions of God-fearing Americans who died on the fields of battle for freedom, for a candidate who says it’s O.K. to kill the unborn,” he said. “I just can’t.”

“It’s not about winning elections. It’s about honoring Christ.”

So, according to Scarborough the 2008 election either seems to require that the Right “hold our noses” and support the Republican nominee because it’s “all about the judges” or abandon the GOP because it’s all “about honoring Christ” … or preferably some combination of the two that will allow them do the former while pretending there are upholding the latter.  

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

The Right Can’t Even Agree on How to Abandon the GOP

Amid the reports and speculation about the potential for the Religious Right to abandon the Republican Party should Rudy Giuliani be its presidential nominee in 2008, it looks as if even those who participated in the ultra-secretive deliberations don’t even agree about what the purpose of such a move might be.  

While Gary Bauer was primarily concerned about what sort of dangerous and counter-productive implications such talk might have for the Republican Party and the right-wing movement, Tony Perkins was stating that while they have no desire to abandon the GOP, they would do so if necessary:

[T]he intent here is not to create a third party. What -- what we`re saying is -- like myself, you know, I came to the political process. I ran for office, held office, because of the issue of life. And -- and the vast majority of social conservatives came to the Republican Party because of the life issue and the other social issues. If the party leaves those issues, I think it`s unreasonable for them to demand that they stay in the party. And I don`t think they will.

And then you have Richard Viguerie, who was also at the meeting, telling Matt Lewis of Townhall.com something else entirely:

Viguerie believes the conservative movement has been lied to by the establishment Republicans for 45 years, and that it may be time to launch a true conservative party.  He resents the idea espoused by some Republicans that conservatives "have no other place to go." 

He tells me that the 3rd party rumor isn't an ad hoc one-time effort to stop Rudy Giuliani, as was reported (I wonder how the rumors that this was about Rudy got started???).  Instead, it is a long-term paradigm shift in which conservatives will forever leave the GOP, it's natural home since Ronald Reagan:

"If we do this, we're going to do a very well thought-out, well-planned effort ... this is not something that will be effective just for the '08 presidential election."

Unlike other years when conservatives have fielded candidates merely to make a point, Viguerie tells me this new idea "goes far beyond the '08 elections".

While Bauer’s main goal is to maintain the Right’s standing and influence within the Republican Party and Perkins says there is no desire to create a third party alternative to the GOP, Viguerie appears intent on destroying once and for all the bond between the Right and the political party he feels has done nothing but lie to them. 

If these right-wing activists and leaders had hoped that by threatening to abandon the GOP they would in some way help unify the movement heading into 2008, it looks as, so far, they’ve only managed to accomplish the exact opposite.  

“The Court is No Longer the Trump Card”

Last night Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council appeared on “Hardball” to discuss reports that many Religious Right leaders are considering bolting the Republican Party should Rudy Giuliani win the presidential nomination.  He quickly quashed the idea that they would be willing to hold their noses, as some have suggested, and support Giuliani in return for getting future Supreme Court justices like Scalia, Roberts, Alito, and Thomas, as he has promised:

“I think his record on judges is all not that strong.  And, secondly, we just had a -- a very strong administration. And we would have had Harriet Miers on the court, had we not opposed that -- the president`s nomination there. The court is no longer the trump card. There is no guarantee that a Republican is going to nominate strong conservatives for the court … Look, we have had a number of Republican presidents who have stated they are going to do good on the courts, and we have a court that is dominated by Republican nominees.  We have only tilted the court back to where it`s balanced. And that was because we fought this administration on one of its appointees. So -- and this president is pro-life, adamantly, one of the strongest pro-life presidents we have had. To think that we have got a candidate, a -- the first time we have had major Republican Party presidential candidate who is adamantly pro-abortion, I don`t have much comfort in that, Chris.”  

Will pro-lifers bring the GOP down?
Will pro-lifers bring the GOP down?

Full transcript below:

The Right’s Rallying Cry: “It’s all About the Judges”

In contrast to the various high-profile right-wing leaders threatening to bolt the Republican Party should Rudy Giuliani win the presidential nomination, there are a few unlikely voices calling for pragmatism in order to achieve the ultimate goal: control of the Supreme Court and the overturning of Roe vs. Wade.   

Back in April, Bill Donohue of all people urged others on the Right not to over-react to the possibility of Giuliani winning the nomination, saying that the pro-life movement would only hurt its own cause by sacrificing the chance to get more “strict constructionists" on the Supreme Court for the sake of their principles. 

And now Rick Scarborough is weighing in, telling those who are threatening to abandon the GOP to quit all their whining and pouting:

To all of that I say emphatically, “Grow UP!!!” When I hear my friends, and people I admire, saying that they will either stay home or go to a third party, I lose my patience. Five years ago I stepped out of a good pastorate to devote my full attention to educating pastors and congregations on what Christian citizenship truly means and teach them why Christians, of all people, should and must stay engaged. Now some of the men who most inspired me to get involved are acting like our movement is dead and the cause is lost.

And most remarkably, they are acting that way when we are the closest we have ever been to victory. We are arguably one vote short of overturning Roe v Wade and over thirty years of judicial activism which has decimated our country. The next president will likely appoint a minimum of two justices to the Supreme Court. Justice Stevens is 87 Years old and his health is failing. Justice Ginsburg is 74 and battling cancer. Many court observers believe these two justices are holding on now in the hope that a liberal president who shares their views for America will be in place in ‘08 to name their successors. I am committed to seeing to it that they are disappointed in that hope.

The next president will determine whether our courts return to their constitutionally mandated responsibilities and cease legislating from the bench, or continue to erode America’s long held biblical traditions. And I for one do not intend to sit idly by and allow evil to triumph because good men choose to do nothing--or worse, do the wrong thing.

I have often said in speeches to churches, “the only thing worse than not voting, is voting without a clue as to what you are voting for.” When it comes time for the ‘08 elections, we must be armed with truth and determined to vote our values. If enough of us do that, we will get a president who will make the right choice when it comes to nominating judges. In ’08, it’s all about the judges!

As we noted before, despite all of the opposition to his campaign, Rudy Giuliani remains something of a temptation for the Right as he has been more than willing to surround himself with Federalist Society members and been extremely vocal about promising to appoint Justices like Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Roberts to the Supreme Court.  

As Scarborough puts it: “We may have to hold our nose as we vote in ‘08, but we must and we will vote.”

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:

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Rudy Giuliani Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Monday 05/04/2009, 5:34pm
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... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 04/28/2009, 4:30pm
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... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 04/06/2009, 12:28pm
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... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 01/28/2009, 1:13pm
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.... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 12/08/2008, 2:46pm
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... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 11/19/2008, 11:59am
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... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 11/17/2008, 12:01pm
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... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 10/06/2008, 2:04pm
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... MORE >