Rudy Giuliani

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."

Dobson’s Low Profile Hides Focus on the States

Following the rejection of the Right’s political agenda in the last election, there have been a number of news articles written in recent months about a potential split emerging within the evangelical political community, with newer leaders pushing to incorporate issues such as the environment and poverty into the agenda, while old-school leaders seek to quash any efforts to dilute their traditional anti-choice, anti-gay message.  

From this split, some new right-wing leaders appear to be emerging, such as Richard Land who seems to be attempting to position himself as the Right’s new powerbroker, seemingly at the expense of James Dobson.  For his part, Dobson has been keeping something of a low profile, perhaps chastened a bit by the controversy he generated when he suggested that presidential hopeful Fred Thompson was not a Christian.   

Other than appearing from time to time to declare that he won’t support or vote for Rudy Giuliani or John McCain, Dobson has been relatively quiet as of late – but that doesn’t mean that his organization, Focus on the Family, has become any less influential or involved in politics, especially at the state level. Just in the last two days, it has been reported that FOF has hooked up with a new “state policy council” in Washington and is affiliated with a similar organization in West Virginia, both of which have a similar goal:  pushing the right-wing agenda at the state level and energizing right-wing voters ahead of the upcoming elections. 

Cause or Effect?

Wayne Slater, writing in The Dallas Morning News, says that while Rudy Giuliani might not be much liked by the Republican Party’s social conservative, right-wing base, he might not be totally unacceptable either, especially if they are faced with the prospect of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee:

As the most powerful movement in American politics for several decades, conservative Christians insisted that above all else, their candidates adhere to their positions on social issues, particularly abortion and gay marriage. But as their movement changes, many are placing the fight against Islamic extremism at the top of the list as well.

For the last several years, the “fight against Islamic extremism” has never been a key issue for the Right.  While it has been an issue they’ve mentioned occasionally, its importance has always paled in comparison to their primary goals of fighting for restrictions on abortion, passing a federal marriage amendment, and controlling the federal judiciary.  As a matter of fact, the issue of terrorism was nowhere to be seen on last year’s Congressional scorecard [PDF] put together by the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, which claimed to be a “compilation of significant votes representing a cross section of issues affecting the family.”

So what could explain this relatively sudden rise in the importance of national security issues and terrorism for the Right?

Nobody Can Question Romney’s Commitment to Winning Meaningless Polls

A few weeks ago, after it was announced that both John McCain and Rudy Giuliani were not going to be participating in the Iowa Straw Poll, Mitt Romney’s campaign decided to scale back its own operations in the state:

"I think initially we planned to bring in a very large number of folks from across the state for the straw poll," Romney told reporters. "We've cut back on our target from that standpoint to a level where we think we can win, but we're not trying to overwhelm anybody."

Romney said it is important to keep showing his commitment to the straw poll and "engage our base of supporters so that by the time the caucus comes along we'll have our structure in place and our team members that are tried and tested.

"But we have pulled back the level of investment financially that we're making, in part, to recognize that Mayor Giuliani and Sen. McCain have decided not to participate, and apparently Sen. Thompson as well."

Romney said the straw poll is "not going to be as intense of an event as it would have been had the other front-runners decided to participate."

If that is indeed that case, Romney sure had a strange concept of “pulling back the level of investment” his campaign planned to make in the winning the poll, reportedly outbidding his rivals for on a prime location for his tent, sending out expensive mailings, and spending millions on television ads and other material.  As the Wall Street Journal reports:

Does Gushing Count as an Endorsement?

A few months ago, Richard Land appeared on “Hard Ball with Chris Matthews” where he repeatedly stated “I don‘t endorse candidates.”  Of course, that hasn’t stopped him from “negatively endorsing” potential nominees such as Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich.

But while Land may not have technically “endorsed” any Republican presidential hopeful, it is becoming increasingly clear that he is enthusiastically supporting Fred Thompson’s campaign.  So enamored with Thompson is Land, in fact, that his relentless campaign to heap praise upon him is becoming somewhat embarrassing and calling into question his claim that he doesn’t endorse candidates. 

For instance, when James Dobson questioned whether Thompson was sufficiently Christian, Land came to Thompson’s defense, praising him as a “Southern-fried Reagan” and saying that to “see Fred work a crowd must be what it was like to watch Rembrandt paint.”

Since then, Land has been Thompson’s number one fan, introducing him before he addressed the right-wing Council for National Policy and more recently riding to his rescue after it was reported that Thompson had once lobbied for a pro-choice group, gushing to CBN’s David Brody that he has “never seen anything like this grassroots swell for Thompson” and telling WORLD Magazine that the candidate would be “red meat” for conservative Republican primary voters. 

And when the Washington Post recently ran a story about the impact Thompson’s past lobbying might have on his support among right-wing voters, there was Land again to praise him as the second coming of Reagan and the great right-wing hope:

Richard Land, an official with the nation's Southern Baptists, called the video "stunning in its strong, pro-life message."

"I'm around a lot of Baptists," Land said. "They find Fred Thompson to be a tantalizing combination of charisma, conviction and electability. He's got a Reaganesque ability to connect with ordinary folk that is powerful."

Land added: "He also has the same Teflon coating that Reagan had: Bad stuff just doesn't stick."

It is getting to the point where Land would be better off just dropping the claim that he doesn’t endorse candidates and admit that he is endorsing Thompson, as he claims of neutrality and nonpartisanship are becoming increasingly dubious.  

Fox News Discovers DC Caucuses, "Heavily Republican" Neighborhoods

Fox News reported today that "GOP frontrunner Rudy Giuliani will unveil his 'Justice Advisory Committee' this week on a two-day swing through heavily Republican western districts of Washington, D.C., home of the first presidential caucuses in 2008." Do they know something we don't?

More Trouble for Giuliani from Conservative Catholic Activists

A few weeks ago we noted the formation of an anti-Giuliani Catholic front, including Joseph Cella of Fidelis and Steve Dillard of Catholics Against Rudy, right-wing activists key to forcing the withdrawal of Harriet Miers from nomination to the Supreme Court. Now more self-identified Catholic activists are mobilizing against Rudy Giuliani, himself a Catholic and the leading GOP candidate for president.

Acting under the rubric of “Republicans Against Rudy Giuliani,” two activists put out a press release targeting the candidate for “liberal views on foundational issues of abortion, homosexuality, judges, and gun control” – in particular, his dressing in drag for comedy sketches:

Republicans upset with Rudy Giuliani's anti-family policies protested on Sunday, June 10th when the "Republican" presidential candidate appeared in Irvine. A "Rudy Giuliani in drag" was among dozens of sign-holding protestors outside the hotel. …

"Imagine what heads of state would think of an American president known for dressing up as a woman," said Bob Cielnicky, a southern California pro-life leader. "What was Rudy Giuliani thinking when he did this publicly three times as mayor of New York? Obviously not the Presidency." …

"It's appalling to see some Republicans abandoning their Republican Party core principles for Rudy Giuliani," said Ken Fisher, a conservative Republican activist in Orange County, California. "If you support Giuliani, you aren't supporting family values."

Fisher is president of Concerned Roman Catholics of America, which seeks to “undo the last thirty-plus years of watered-down Catholicism.” One section of the group’s website attacks the “Pro-Sodomite, Pro-Abortion” Knights of Columbus, listing politicians associated with the Catholic fraternal order. Fisher is joined by Cielnicky, who has been involved with various groups in California including the Life Priority Network, the Alliance Against Abortion Funding, and Californians Against Assisted Suicide.

In addition, the New York Observer reports on the question of whether the Roman Catholic Church itself will get involved against Giuliani’s bid. Some U.S. bishops made headlines in 2004 by announcing that they would not permit Democratic candidate John Kerry to receive communion in their dioceses; one clergyman told the Observer, “We’ll wait and see if the dozen or so bishops who all went after Kerry, if they go after Giuliani for the same thing.”

Giuliani Creating a “Moral and Spiritual Dilemma” for the Right

Rudy Giuliani has already scored “negative endorsements” from right-wing leaders such as James Dobson, Richard Land, and Richard Viguerie and it looks as if he can now add the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins to that list:
"Speaking as a private citizen, no, no, I could not support (Giuliani)," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which has about a half-million members. "The 20 years I've been involved in politics, the life issue has been at the very top. How could I turn my back on that?" Perkins said that should Giuliani win the nomination, he would vote for a third-party candidate who reflected his values. "It wouldn't be the first time," Perkins added in an interview last week.
A potential Giuliani win in the primary also appears to be a grave concern to a few other right-wing figures:
"When I give my support for a candidate, I am giving the green light, if he wins, all the way down the line in terms of so many moral and social issues," said [Lou] Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, which represents 43,000 churches. "I'm personally not supporting Giuliani," he added. Sheldon is backing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the primaries. … "Where Mayor Giuliani is today, I absolutely could not support him” …said Pat Mahoney, executive director of the Christian Defense Coalition.
But that whole dynamic could change, says Mahoney, with just two words – “and those two words are Hillary Clinton.”
Mahoney, like Sheldon, said that if Giuliani pledges to support conservative "strict constructionist" jurists -- who do not believe the Constitution mandates a federal right to abortion -- to the Supreme Court, the prominent social conservatives could vote Republican in the 2008 election. Sheldon added that support for a third-party candidate is a "wasted vote." … "I have talked to many Christian leaders privately, and I don't know of any faith-based evangelical or Catholic organization, pro-family, pro-life, that could support Rudy Giuliani and stand with him," Mahoney said. "But on a personal level," he added, should Giuliani face a Democrat in the general election, "then what are you faced with? You are faced with appointments to the Supreme Court that could be two or three. It is a moral and spiritual dilemma."
So not one right-wing leader is willing to endorse Giuliani, but apparently their fear of Hillary Clinton and for the future of the Supreme Court might just be enough to get some of them to abandon everything they claim to stand for. Mahoney claims that the Right is facing a “moral and spiritual dilemma,” but what they are really facing is a political dilemma because their primary concern is that if they refuse to back Giuliani and he ends up winning not only the GOP nomination but the presidency, their hold on the Republican Party will have been dealt a devastating blow. And the Right’s dilemma is not just limited to a potential Giuliani nomination – it plagues them with all of the current Republican frontrunners. If they don’t back Romney, Thompson, McCain or whoever becomes the GOP nominee and that candidate wins the White House, the Right is going to be left out in the cold. But if they do back one of the current frontrunners, they will in essence be admitting that their political power is more important than their self-described principles. Ironic as it may be, the Right’s best hope for 2008 might just be to stand back from the presidential campaign and election altogether and hope that the GOP’s nominee loses, at which point they will be well-positioned to trot out their standard line about how the Republicans lost because they abandoned their right-wing base and quickly re-establish themselves as the GOP’s source of electoral power.

Rudy to Get The Harriet Miers Treatment

Back in 2005, when Harriet Miers was humiliated and forced to withdraw her nomination to the Supreme Court, the Republican Party’s right-wing base was largely responsible.  Having torpedoed their own president’s nominee for being insufficiently zealous regarding their social and legal agenda, the Right forced President Bush to send them someone whose ideological commitment could not be doubted, which he did by nominating Samuel Alito.  

In the face of what, initially, seemed insurmountable odds, the Right mobilized and managed to torpedo Miers’ nomination in just under a month, achieving arguably their single most significant political triumph of the entire Bush presidency to date. 

Now, heading into 2008, the Right is facing what some of them see as an even more ominous threat: the prospect that Rudy Giuliani could win the GOP presidential nomination.  And just as they did with Miers, right-wing activists - especially anti-choice Catholic ones – are gearing up to launch an all-out attack in an effort to deny Giuliani the nomination:

Rule Number One: Know Your Right-Wing Leaders

Gov. Mitt Romney is well-positioned to capitalize on the fact that several right-wing leaders have already rejected several other GOP presidential hopefuls – a position that might be solidified if he can get the endorsement of James Dobson:  

It wasn't quite an endorsement, but Mitt Romney must see promise in comments conservative icon James Dobson made about him yesterday.

Dobson, the influential leader of the Christian organization Focus on the Family, praised Romney on a radio program and said he may end up supporting him.

"I mean he's very presidential and he's got the right answers to many, many things," Dobson told conservative commenator Laura Ingraham on her show. Dobson said he hasn't decided whom to back, but that Romney "is still on the list."

But if Romney hopes to take advantage of this position, he first needs to brush up on his understanding of which right-wing leader he's busy pandering too: 

At the fund-raiser for Mitt Romney at the posh 1818 Club on Friday, the candidate was making the introductions to the room.

Romney gestured to Ralph Reed and said, “Why it’s good to see Gary Bauer here.” (For the detached, Bauer is a former presidential candidate with ties, like Reed, to the Religious Right.)

Romney then caught himself. “Oh, I’m a little mixed up here,” he said. But Romney still couldn’t place Reed’s face — and had to move on.

After the event, Romney approached Reed and apologized for misremembering him.

Ralph Reed (Left) and Gary Bauer

And just what is Reed doing at a Romney fundraiser anyway?  Is that any way to repay Rudy Giuliani for his support?

Rudy Keeps Racking Up The Negative Endorsements

Last week, Richard Land was a guest on “Hardball With Chris Matthews” where he stated that while he did not endorse political candidates, that didn’t mean he wouldn’t “negatively endorse” them.  And that is just what he proceeded to do regarding Rudy Giuliani:

I don‘t think I could sell him to most of them and I wouldn‘t try.  I would say vote your values and your beliefs and convictions and have to leave it to them to connect the dots.  But I have said publicly, I don‘t endorse candidates, but I‘m negatively endorsing. I could not vote for Giuliani.

In addition to Land’s negative endorsement, Giuliani has also received a similar endorsement from right-wing direct-mail pioneer Richard Viguerie:

“If the Republican Party nominates Rudy Giuliani as its candidate for either president or vice president, I will personally work to defeat the GOP ticket in 2008,” says Richard A. Viguerie, author of Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause.

And if that wasn’t enough, Focus on the Family’s James Dobson has now taken to the pages of WorldNetDaily to declare that under no circumstances will he support Giuliani:

My conclusion from this closer look at the current GOP front-runner comes down to this: Speaking as a private citizen and not on behalf of any organization or party, I cannot, and will not, vote for Rudy Giuliani in 2008. It is an irrevocable decision. If given a Hobson's – Dobson's? – choice between him and Sens. Hillary Clinton or Barrack Obama, I will either cast my ballot for an also-ran – or if worse comes to worst – not vote in a presidential election for the first time in my adult life. My conscience and my moral convictions will allow me to do nothing else.

It should also be noted that Dobson has already negatively endorsed John McCain and has suggested that potential candidate Fred Thompson is not enough of a Christian.

Land Negatively Endorses Giuliani

Richard Land was a guest on last Thursday’s edition of “Hardball With Chris Matthews” where he discussed whether “Christian conservatives [are] comfortable with the leading Republican presidential candidates.”  Land has managed to position himself as some sort of seemingly neutral observer of the current GOP primary process and, as such, repeatedly stated that he does not endorse candidates during his appearance on "Hardball."

Of course, just because he won’t endorse a specific candidate doesn’t mean he won’t “negatively endorse” other candidates:

LAND:  I don‘t think I could sell him to most of them and I wouldn‘t try.  I would say vote your values and your beliefs and convictions and have to leave it to them to connect the dots.  But I have said publicly, I don‘t endorse candidates, but I‘m negatively endorsing. I could not vote for Giuliani.

Two days later, Land was in Virginia introducing possible Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson when he addressed the ultra-secretive Council for National Policy

Thompson was the keynote speaker at a dinner organized by the Council for National Policy, a group of many of the nation’s most influential conservative leaders.

Most of them have large followings in the groups they lead, and many have expressed dissatisfaction with the Republican Party’s presidential contenders.

Richard Land introduced Thompson at the event. As president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Land plays a starring role in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

Land has already negatively endorsed both Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich while remaining circumspect about candidates such as John McCain and Mitt Romney, but he hasn’t even bothered to try and hide his excitement about Thompson. 

Considering that Thompson’s appearance before the Council for National Policy was widely seen as key test as he lays the groundwork for officially announcing his intention to run – something he’ll reportedly do this summer – it is beginning to look as if Land’s “I don‘t endorse candidates” claim is soon going to be put to the test.  

The Fracturing Right

If one was looking for an example of just how fractured and confused those on the Right are as they attempt to decide which Republican presidential candidate to support, one wouldn’t find a better example than this article from CNS News.    

As it stands now, the Right is so desperately lost that the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue, of all people, is touting Rudy Giuliani and pushing anti-abortion voters not to be ideological purists:

But it is Giuliani's commitment to appoint "strict constructionists" to the U.S. Supreme Court that should matter most to Christian activists, Donohue said.

"Social conservatives are going into this campaign with some degree of reservation, if not trepidation," he acknowledged. "But when push comes to shove, there is a day and night difference" between the three leading GOP contenders and their Democratic counterparts, he added.

"The problem with the pro-life movement is that some people are purist, and as far as I'm concerned, they're detrimental to the cause," Donohue said. "It's important to be principled, but it's also important to be prudential."

While Donohue singles out Giuliani’s pledge to appoint "strict constructionists" to the Supreme Court as the candidate’s top credential, other candidates -- Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Mike Huckabee – have all stated that, if elected, they would nominate judges like Roberts, Alito, and Scalia.

It is somewhat surprising that Donohue hangs so much on this Giuliani claim, considering that his judicial appointment history has not been particularly reassuring to the Right.

But at least Giuliani has someone out there championing his campaign – the best John McCain could get in the article was a quote from Janice Crouse of Concerned Woman for America saying he’s “never been popular with any branch of conservatism” and that it “may be too late for him to prove himself.” 

As for Romney:

Jordan Sekulow, a law student who works as a consultant on Romney's campaign, said prospective voters should look at his record as governor of Massachusetts, where he closed a $3 billion budget gap during his first year in office by eliminating waste and streamlining government.

Romney was willing to confront the judicial activism of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of same-sex "marriage," Sekulow added.

Sekulow.jpgIf the name “Jordan Sekulow” seems familiar, that is probably because he is not just some ordinary “law student” – he was the national chairman of “Students for Bush” in 2004 and is the Deputy Director of Government Affairs at the American Center for Law and Justice, which just so happens to be the organization headed by his father, Jay Sekulow, who is himself an advisor to the Romney campaign.

But while Romney may have the support of the Sekulow family sown up, he’s going to have a hard time winning over Donohue:

Donohue also said there is good cause "not to trust" Romney, since he "made it clear to everyone in Massachusetts" during earlier campaigns that he was an abortion-rights supporter.

Apparently Donohue doesn’t think Giuliani has that sort of problem at all.

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Rudy Giuliani Posts Archive

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 >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 07/21/2008, 11:49am
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, 6:01pm
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, 3:50pm
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, 9:20am
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, 4:41pm
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, 1:56pm
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 >