Rudy Giuliani

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:

Religious Right Rally against Marriage Equality in Florida

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

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

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

Tony Perkins

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

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

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

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

Richard Land

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

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

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

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

Harry Jackson

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

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

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

Don Wildmon

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

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

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

Gary Bauer

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

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

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

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

William Owens

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

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

Alan Chambers

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

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

Robert Knight

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Stemberger

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

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

Ken Blackwell

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

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

Katherine Harris

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

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

Tom Minnery

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

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

FRC Succeeds Where Values Voter Debate Failed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Shows Found Guilty in Absentia

Not content with rewording “God Bless America” and grilling second-tier candidates with questions about what they’d do to overturn Roe v. Wade and fight “the homosexual agenda,” the organizers of the Values Voter Presidential Debate made sure that everyone was aware that the four leading Republican candidates had snubbed the debate, leaving empty podiums on the stage and even reserving time during the program to allow panelists and special guests to direct questions at the candidates who declined to participate - even though they weren’t there.

And it is probably a good thing they skipped the event, since it is unlikely that Fred Thompson would have enjoyed being questioned by Mat Staver when he compared same-sex marriage to slavery, or that Mitt Romney would have liked being called a hypocrite by Peter LaBarbera, or that John McCain would have appreciated Janet Folger’s condescending tone, or that Rudy Giuliani would have been comfortable about being questioned by an “abortion survivor” demanding to know whether he “honestly believed that an abortionist had a right to kill me.” 

Giuliani’s Pathetic Excuse

Yesterday we noted that Rudy Giuliani was scheduled to be in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on the very day that the Values Voter Presidential Debate was taking place, though he and the other top-tier candidates had all declined to participate.  While the other candidates all gave excuses about scheduling conflicts, the Giuliani campaign didn’t even bother trying to come up with an excuse.  

Needless to say, his refusal to attend the event when he was in town campaigning just four miles away did not endear him to the organizers of the debate, with Janet Folger saying he was essentially telling them "I’m here in town, but I don’t care enough about your values to actually show up."

Apparently, the Giuliani campaign is starting to think that sticking a finger in the eye of the GOP’s right-wing base might not have been a very good idea and so Giuliani is desperately trying to come up with an excuse about why he didn’t make it:

Giuliani was slated to meet with supporters at a Tampa cafe and attend a fundraiser.

Asked why he wasn't attending the debate, Giuliani said, “I wasn't aware of it.''

Oh really?  That is odd, since his campaign sent a letter to the organizers weeks ago declining the invitation:

The Giuliani camp didn't even bother with the scheduling-conflict ruse, providing the Sun with the text of a letter the former mayor's campaign manager, Michael DuHaime, sent to the debate's organizers on Friday. "Thank you for your kind invitation for Mayor Giuliani to attend a presidential debate hosted by Values Voters," Mr. DuHaime wrote. "Unfortunately Mayor Giuliani will be unable to accept your invitation."

And in case it has slipped his mind since then, his campaign also shared the letter with CBN’s David Brody just last week when he inquired why Giuliani would not be attending.  

If Giuliani thinks his excuse is going to convince anyone, he’d better think again.  

What Is Rudy Up To?

With the Values Voter Presidential Debate sponsored by a collection of second-tier Religious Right leaders scheduled for tonight, the organizers are still pressing hard to get top-tier candidates who have refused to participate (Thompson, Giuliani, Romney, and McCain) to change their minds, claiming that the straw poll being held at the debate will “decide the nominee” and warning them that if they don’t show up, “they're going to be hurt substantially.”

When asked a few weeks back why they weren’t going to be attending this debate, most of the top candidates made excuses about scheduling conflicts, except for Rudy Giuliani:

The Giuliani camp didn't even bother with the scheduling-conflict ruse, providing the Sun with the text of a letter the former mayor's campaign manager, Michael DuHaime, sent to the debate's organizers on Friday. "Thank you for your kind invitation for Mayor Giuliani to attend a presidential debate hosted by Values Voters," Mr. DuHaime wrote. "Unfortunately Mayor Giuliani will be unable to accept your invitation."

Apparently, the reason the Giuliani campaign didn’t bother with the scheduling conflict excuse is that, according to this recent update in the AP Daybook, he is actually going to be in Fort Lauderdale today: 

NEW* GIULIANI in Fort Lauderdale, FL: At 3:30 PM Rudy Giuliani holds a press availability at Advanced Roofing, located at 2100 NW 21st Ave. [Associated Press Daybook, 9/17/07]

Was Giuliani just keeping his options open in case other leading candidates decided to participate? Or perhaps he has decided to trek down to Florida in order to meet with the debate organizers in private in an attempt to placate them before the debate without having to answer for joining them publicly?

If not, then this is a rather staggering slap-in-the-face to the debate organizers, because rather than schedule Giuliani to be somewhere that would at least provide a plausible excuse for not attending tonight’s debate, his campaign’s decision to drop him less than 4 miles away from the debate venue on the very day it is being held can only be seen as attempt to send an unmistakable signal to these leaders that he does not want or need their support.  

So which is it?  Is Giuliani in Florida today to secretly pander to the very right-wing leaders he has publicly blown off or is he there taunting them and sending them a very clear message that he plans to run without seeking their support?    

Federalist Society and GOP Candidates

The Chicago Tribune notes that Rudy Giuliani is utilizing the Federalist Society in an attempt to assure the Right that he'll appoint their kind of judges and that he isn't the only one courting the groups: "Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson also have recruited members to high-level positions in their organizations."
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Rudy Giuliani Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Monday 11/17/2008, 11:01am
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, 1:04pm
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 >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 07/21/2008, 10:49am
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... MORE >
, Tuesday 07/15/2008, 5:01pm
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... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 05/21/2008, 2:50pm
Back when he was running for president, Rudy Giuliani was not particularly popular with the Religious Right, so he went out of his way to promise to deliver on their most pressing issue:  the future of the Supreme Court.   For its part, the Right was torn between the idea of standing firm in its refusal to support Giuliani and swallowing its principles for the sake of the next Justice, with some claiming all that mattered was getting control of the Supreme Court while others insisted that they would not be bought off with such promises.   As it turned out, Giuliani... MORE >
, Wednesday 04/02/2008, 8:20am
It was at a Council for National Policy meeting back in September that the Goldilocks brigade of the Religious Right, led by Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, threatened to break away from the Republican Party if Rudy Giuliani won the nomination. And the CNP meeting in March was one of John McCain’s first stops after securing the GOP mantle—continuing his pandering to the fringe. Now, Warren Cole Smith of the conservative-Christian World magazine relates a tense scene from the CNP meeting: Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association, an... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 03/14/2008, 3:41pm
Say what you want about Vision America’s Rick Scarborough, but when the man sets his mind to something, he sticks with it … at least until he’s had a chance to think about it and then changes course.   From his inability to decide whether he liked Alexandra Pelosi's documentary “Friends of God” to his ill-fated and seemingly defunct “70 Weeks to Save America Crusade,”  Scarborough has a remarkable ability to announce grand plans one week only to watch them quickly collapse and to make bold declarations only to turn around a... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 03/07/2008, 12:56pm
Fresh off his endorsements from John Hagee and his stumping around Iowa with Rod Parsley, John McCain’s outreach to the Right appears to be picking up steam: FOX NEWS HAS LEARNED that in New Orleans on Friday John McCain makes a major speech to the influential and little known Council for National Policy. The CNP is an umbrella organization of influential social and religious conservative groups. What is the Council for National Policy, you ask?  The council was founded in 1981, just as the modern conservative movement began its ascendance. The Rev. Tim LaHaye,... MORE >