A Bad Omen for Rudy In Iowa

The Associated Press ran an article over the weekend examining the role “religious conservatives” in Iowa continue to play in the Republican presidential primaries.  As the article noted, GOP “candidates will need to convince religious conservatives that they are serious before they can win them over” and that none of the front-running candidates has managed to do that quite yet.  

And just like leaders and organizations at the national level, local Religious Right leaders and activists in Iowa are divided over which candidate to support.  But while these activists might not currently wield enough political power to single-handedly dictate who the nominee will be, they certainly can do the opposite: 

"Religious conservatives and social conservatives in the Republican Party are like the driver's education instructor," said [Drake University political science professor Dennis] Goldford. "He has a brake, but he doesn't have a steering wheel or an accelerator. They can pretty well say who is not going to be the nominee."

This fact, coupled with this recent declaration by “100 conservative Iowa Republicans” vowing never to support Rudy Giuliani cannot bode well for Giuliani’s campaign: 

When, in the course of political process, it might become necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, it becomes necessary to declare the causes which would impel the separation.

We, the undersigned of this digital document, hereby agree that we are Conservatives first and Republicans second, and that we would not support the candidacy of Rudolph William Louis "Rudy" Giuliani if the Republican Party chooses to nominate him for President of the United States.

We hereby agree that Mr. Giuliani is an American hero for his performance in the aftermath of 9-11, however his liberal record as Mayor, appointment of liberal judges, and the conduct of his personal life make it impossible for us to support his candidacy under any circumstances.

While Giuliani may currently be second in fund-raising and leading in some polls, the fact that 100 right-wing activists from Iowa would publicly declare that they will not “support his candidacy under any circumstances” makes it clear he’s got a long way to go with a big chunk of the GOP’s base.

Ex-Head of FRC: Bush, GOP 'Inject Politics' into Legal System

Ken Connor rips “tort reform,” attorneys firing.

Dobson Seeks to Put Kibosh on Thompson's Bid

As we noted the other day, James Dobson is a member of The Arlington Group, a secretive coalition of right-wing powerhouses that is throwing around its political power by interviewing presidential candidates in an attempt to anoint the eventual GOP nominee by granting said nominee its seal-of-approval. At the same time, various polls show TV star and former Senator Fred Thompson doing quite well among Republican voters despite the fact that he is not even officially running. That apparently was frightening enough to James Dobson to compel him to make an unsolicited phone call to Dan Gilgoff, author of "The Jesus Machine: How James Dobson, Focus on the Family, and Evangelical America are Winning the Culture War," in order to decree that Thompson's candidacy is unacceptable because Dobson doesn't "think he's a Christian":
Focus on the Family founder James Dobson appeared to throw cold water on a possible presidential bid by former Sen. Fred Thompson while praising former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is also weighing a presidential run, in a phone interview Tuesday.

"Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for," Dobson said of Thompson. "[But] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression," Dobson added, saying that such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party's conservative Christian base and win the GOP nomination.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Thompson, took issue with Dobson's characterization of the former Tennessee senator. "Thompson is indeed a Christian," he said. "He was baptized into the Church of Christ."

In a follow-up phone conversation, Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger stood by Dobson's claim. He said that, while Dobson didn't believe Thompson to be a member of a non-Christian faith, Dobson nevertheless "has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian—someone who talks openly about his faith."

"We use that word—Christian—to refer to people who are evangelical Christians," Schneeberger added. "Dr. Dobson wasn't expressing a personal opinion about his reaction to a Thompson candidacy; he was trying to 'read the tea leaves' about such a possibility."

Dobson went on to say that Gov. Mitt Romney can't win because "there are conservative Christians who will not vote for him because of his Mormon faith," and that "the current excitement over Giuliani" will soon fade. The only potential nominee for whom Dobson had any praise was Newt Gingrich, who just so happened to appear on Dobson's radio program a few weeks ago where he confessed to having cheated on his wife during the impeachment of President Clinton and claimed to have sought forgiveness. While stating that he wasn't endorsing anyone, Dobson praised Gingrich as the "brightest guy out there" and "the most articulate politician on the scene today." Despite Dobson's claims to the contrary, it is hard to see how this unsolicited call to Gilgoff could be considered anything but an open declaration of support for Gingrich. Dobson has already said that he will not vote for Sen. John McCain, accused Thompson of not being a Christian, made clear that he doesn't think Romney can win, and declared that Giuliani's campaign is doomed. And since he is not out there praising third-tier candidates such as Sam Brownback or Mike Huckabee, that pretty much leaves Gingrich as Dobson's only choice.

GOP-Aligned Religious-Right Activists Seek to Marginalize NAE

In a column mulling the role of Evangelicals in the 2008 election, Bishop Harry Jackson claims that in recent years, they “voted their values” based on “gay marriage and pro-life concerns” – an assumption contradicted by the Center for American Values poll – but that now the Evangelical movement is undergoing a “political makeover.” One might guess that Jackson was referring to the dispute between the National Association of Evangelicals and religious-right activists (including Jackson) led by James Dobson over whether talking about climate change and torture distracts from the core mission of Christians. Instead, Jackson – who is a frequent Religious Right spokesman – sees that debate as part of a liberal conspiracy to undermine “the historic passion that the ‘moral majority’ has had for the issues of protection of life and guarding the traditional family”:

During this transformation from caterpillar to butterfly, a host of enemies are attempting to prevent an evangelical resurrection. A sophisticated, pincer strategy is being waged against them by two groups--–liberal Christians and the liberal press. Both groups fear that the sleeping giant will awaken with an attitude.

Of course, this concern by the Dobson group that outreach on alternate issues would distract from gay marriage, abortion, and abstinence education was not voiced during and after the last election, as the Religious Right’s definition of core issues of so-called “values voters” rapidly expanded to encompass most of the Republican Party platform, from the War on Terror to tax cuts and Social Security to a fear of “socialized medicine.”

So it is that the religious-right activists most closely aligned with partisan campaigns have made discrediting the National Association of Evangelicals a priority. One more example comes from Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a group founded in the early 1980s to counter criticism of Reagan Administration policies in Central America by the National Council of Churches and to create an ideological “renewal” in mainline protestant churches by painting the NCC as Communist sympathizers. Tooley invokes the IRD’s defining campaign against the National Council of Churches in describing the National Association of Evangelicals:

Just How Many “Secretive Clubs” Does The Right Have?

It is no secret that the GOP’s right-wing base is unenthusiastic about the current crop of presidential frontrunners.  As the New York Times reported last month:

A group of influential Christian conservatives and their allies emerged from a private meeting at a Florida resort this month dissatisfied with the Republican presidential field and uncertain where to turn.

The event was a meeting of the Council for National Policy, a secretive club whose few hundred members include Dr. James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family, the Rev. Jerry Falwell of Liberty University and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. Although little known outside the conservative movement, the council has become a pivotal stop for Republican presidential primary hopefuls, including George W. Bush on the eve of his 1999 primary campaign.

But in a stark shift from the group’s influence under President Bush, the group risks relegation to the margins. Many of the conservatives who attended the event, held at the beginning of the month at the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island, Fla., said they were dismayed at the absence of a champion to carry their banner in the next election.

Now, the Boston Globe is reporting that another secretive right-wing political organization is going beyond the Council for National Policy’s mere complaining and is actively interviewing candidates in order to determine which nominee meets its criteria:

Leaders of a secretive coalition that includes some of the most influential social conservatives in the nation are interviewing presidential candidates in hopes of flexing political muscle and reframing the Republican primaries in 2008.

Over the past few months, members of the executive committee of the so-called Arlington Group have questioned several declared and potential White House hopefuls with the intention of settling on a single candidate, according to Arlington Group members and Republican operatives familiar with the discussions.

Leaders of the group have interviewed Huckabee, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, US Representative Duncan Hunter of California, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who hasn't entered the race but may later this year. It's not clear which other candidates have been or will be interviewed. The group has not yet questioned Romney, Senator John McCain of Arizona, or former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, according to those campaigns.

While the Arlington Group cannot endorse candidates itself, its high-profile and influential members certainly can:

Phyllis Schlafly 'Works over' McCain

Conservative movement stalwart Phyllis Schlafly, scourge of the ERA and founder of the Eagle Forum, has made clear her dissatisfaction with the ideological performance of Republican presidential candidates. But Schafly apparently falls into the school of thought that the fierce competition among candidates for right-wing favor gives activists the opportunity to “get involved and try to change the candidates’ perspectives now,” as Richard Land put it. And so she told supporters in New Hampshire, the early primary state, “You have the opportunity here to work these guys over. … We’re trying to pin them down.”

And so the Eagle Forum published a list of questions for its supporters to ask candidates on the trail, ranging from Schlafly’s theory of “supremacist judges” to the John Birch-esque “North American Union.” She says her plan is working, according to “Swift Vet” co-author and fellow “North American Union” enthusiast Jerome Corsi:

Sen. John McCain's new attention to, and possibly new position on, illegal immigration is being credited to a grassroots program implemented by Phyllis Schlafly, who is training Eagle Forum leaders how to question presidential candidates on key national issues. …

In the 109th Congress, McCain co-sponsored with Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass, S.2611, a "comprehensive immigration reform" bill supported by the Bush administration that included provisions calling for "guest workers" and a "pathway to citizenship."

But after facing intensive questioning in Iowa about immigration issues, McCain is widely reported to be considering a change in his position, requiring illegal immigrants to return home before applying for citizenship, suggesting a compromise measure similar to that proposed by Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind. …

"What McCain probably has not realized," Schlafly told WND, "is that Eagle Forum has made sure that the grassroots are well informed about immigration and other issues. It may be a surprise to presidential candidates like McCain, but the Eagle Forum grassroots are not going to accept the typical politicians' platitudes."

WND asked Schlafly if she thought the questioning from Eagle Forum leaders was the reason McCain appears to have shifted his immigration position. "Yes," she responded, "because I doubt McCain has been asked these specific questions. The specific questions force the candidates to face up to the issues in a practical and meaningful way."

As of this writing, the Eagle Forum questionnaire is missing one prominent cause the group has adopted: its prediction of America’s impending Nazification.

The Unsatisfied Right

It has been well-documented that the GOP’s right-wing base has been less than impressed with the crop of candidates seeking the party’s presidential nomination. 

While some of the candidates have garnered support from a few right-wing leaders of varying status here and there, the recent controversy regarding General Peter Pace’s statement that homosexuality is immoral offers a telling example of the dilemma the GOP frontrunners are facing in trying to secure the Right’s support.  

Following Pace’s statement, right-wing organizations unleashed full-throated defenses and accolades for Pace, yet the Republican nominees, with the notable exception of Sen. Sam Brownback, universally declined to come to his defense. 

And that has not gone unnoticed by Vision America’s Rick Scarborough:

Senator John McCain declined to express an opinion, other than to say that the don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy is working. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who claims to be a convert to the pro-family cause, said Pace should “show more of an outpouring of tolerance.” It has nothing to do with tolerance, but our government officially condoning evil.

The general response to Pace’s comments is the latest sign of this nation’s ongoing moral decline. Even a decade ago, it would have been unthinkable for a presidential candidate to openly contradict the Bible, by declaring an act condemned therein “not immoral.”

America is sadly in need of renewal. Pray that there’s at least one candidate on the 2008 ballot who unabashedly embraces and represents Biblical values.

Scarborough’s anger over this might be cause for concern among those seeking the GOP nomination, especially since, as we noted last month, Scarborough and Alan Keyes are gearing up to launch a “Seventy Weeks to Renew America” project which seeks to “enlist 100,000 Values Voters … who will pray for national renewal and who will vote their Christian values on election day 2008.”  As Scarborough stated in his previous update:  

On March 19 I will convene a meeting with several key pastors from across the nation to discuss and pray for this national project.

That meeting must have been a rousing success, because the number of voters they are looking to mobilize has now doubled:

On July 4 of this year Vision America will embark on its biggest challenge to date, in an effort to move 200,000 Christians to vote their values in elections all across the nation. I believe that Christians need to be reminded that it is a sin not to vote, and that the absence of a clear moral leader at the top of the ticket is not an excuse to withdraw. Far too many Christians look at the magnitude of the problems in America and shrink back, thinking that there is nothing that can be done. We will be reminding Christians through our campaign - which we are calling "Seventy Weeks to Save the Nation" - that our duty is not to be pawns of a political party, but to be faithful to the Lord Jesus. We are working now to enlist 70 churches to host a "One Day Crusade to Save America" in their church.

Scarborough and company are apparently so pessimistic about their chances of getting a “clear moral leader at the top of the ticket” that they have all but given up and intend to simply “concentrate on local issues where our efforts can make an immediate and measurable impact.” 

Reports of Robertson's Marginalization Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

“I talk to a lot of evangelicals and the only person who takes Pat Robertson seriously is Tim Russert.” So claimed Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, in a speech at a church in Westchester County, New York last week. Such pointed disavowals of Robertson by other religious-right leaders have occasionally followed the televangelists more absurd and incendiary comments – such as when he declared that Ariel Sharon’s debilitating stroke was God’s punishment for “dividing God’s land” and called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez – so you might think that Cromartie was responding to recent allegations that Robertson threatened a bodybuilder involved in lawsuit over Robertson’s “Age-Defying Shake,” or perhaps to Robertson’s warning today about Muslim politicians “taking over” the U.S. But Cromartie was trying to make the point that the televangelist, sometimes referred to as a GOP “kingmaker,” is increasingly marginalized.

But it’s hard to believe that. According to its web site, Robertson’s “700 Club” is available “in 95 percent of the television markets across the United States, the program is carried on ABC Family Channel cable network, FamilyNet, Trinity Broadcasting Network, and numerous U.S. television stations and is seen daily by approximately one million viewers.” His Christian Broadcasting Network garnered $166 million in donations from March 2005 to March 2006, and he is the second most well known religious figure in America.

If one needs more evidence of Robertson’s continued influence, especially on U.S. politics, just look at the Republican presidential candidates lining up to curry his favor. Sam Brownback and now John McCain have taken to the CBN airwaves to convince Robertson’s viewers of their conservative credentials. And both Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney are scheduled to speak at Robertson’s Regent University.

As John Green of the Pew Forum said, figures like Robertson “are moving off the stage, but they're by no means inconsequential. … They still have good reputations, particularly with evangelicals who are politically active. There are candidates who want to be seen with these people." As long as that’s true, it’s too early to declare Pat Robertson a political has-been.

Robertson: Muslim Politicians Will 'Destroy' American Civilization

On today’s “700 Club,” Pat Robertson warns that Muslims becoming involved in politics, such as Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota), want to “take over” and “institute Sharia.”

“If the Christians don’t get involved—We’ve been harassed by People for the American Way, we have been harassed by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, we have been harassed by the federal court system, but if the Christians won’t stand up and not worry about the IRS, not worry about whether you’re going to lose your tax exemption, not worry about whatever because you’re going to lose your country if Christians don’t mobilize and vote,” warned Robertson. He added that “The curse of God is to bring in people who don’t share your point of view and then ultimately destroy your civilization.  Well, that’s what we’re facing for our children and grandchildren.” 

Get the Flash Player to see this video clip.

700 Club, 3/20/07

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Robertson’s comments echoed statements denouncing Rep. Ellison as a threat by right-wing commentators such as Roy Moore and Dennis Prager, by Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Virginia), and by Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the Robertson-founded American Center for Law and Justice.

Brownback and Neff: Round II

For five months, we have been keeping an eye on Sen. Sam Brownback’s opposition to Janet Neff, nominated by President Bush to serve on the US District Court for the Western District of Michigan, solely because she attended a lesbian commitment ceremony in 2002.  

In that time, Brownback has engaged in a series of stalling tactics and issued constantly-shifting demands in an attempt to prevent her confirmation: first placing a hold on her nomination, then demanding that she recuse herself from specific cases, then calling for a second hearing, then saying he just wanted an opportunity to debate and vote on her nomination on the Senate floor, then warning again that he wanted her to face a second hearing.

Because of Brownback’s stalling, Neff and a dozen other nominees failed to receive a Senate vote during the last session of Congress and their nominations were returned to the White House. 

Well, President Bush has now renominated Neff and Brownback is back to pledging that he won’t place a hold on her nomination this time around:

Brownback spokesman Brian Hart said the senator would not place another hold on Neff. Brownback intends to ask Senate leadership for a floor debate on her nomination and an up-or-down vote, he said.

Whether or nor Brownback upholds this pledge remains to be seen, but considering that the Right is unimpressed by the current crop of GOP presidential hopefuls and that his primary concern right now is how to gather support his long-shot presidential bid, there is an obvious temptation for him to try and carve out a niche as the Right’s standard-bearer, which is exactly what he appears to be doing: 

U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback introduced himself to state voters Monday as a "full-scale conservative" and made no apologies for his hardline stances against taxes, abortion and gay marriage.

Keep in mind that the only thing the Right seems to like more than fighting over judges is criticizing anything having to do with gays – and a battle over Neff could satisfy both of these urges. 

Perhaps in renominating Neff, President Bush has just handed Brownback an opportunity to rally the right-wing supporters that his campaign so desperately needs.   

TVC’s Religious Test

Yesterday we noted that Concerned Women for America was the first right-wing group to publicly condemn Rep. Pete Stark for admitting that he “does not believe in a Supreme Being.” 

Well, they have now been joined by the Traditional Values Coalition, who does CWA one better by not only blasting Stark, but lying about him as well:

In a display of open hostility to God, California Representative Peter Stark stood up on the Floor of the House on March 13 and declared his unbelief in God. “This is the first time in history that a sitting member of Congress has openly expressed his lack of faith in God,” said TVC Chairman Rev. Louis P. Sheldon. According to Stark, “When the Secular Coalition asked me to complete a survey on my religious beliefs, I indicated I am a Unitarian who does not believe in a supreme being.”

Christian Seniors Association Executive Director James Lafferty notes: “It is sad but not surprising that the current Congress has produced this historic first – one of its members has denied God. The liberals in Congress want to throttle any school child who bows his or her head in prayer but they want to establish a right for liberals to bash Christians and berate God around the clock.”

Lafferty continued, “Congressman Stark’s statement is a very sad benchmark for America. It could be the moment which defines the decline of our country or it could be the spark which marks an important day. That would be the day that religious Americans stood-up to the liberal bullies who are so determined to use the power of government to silence prayer and every other religious expression of free speech.”

Of course, only in TVC’s fevered imaginations did Stark ever “[stand] up on the Floor of the House on March 13 and declared his unbelief in God.” 

In actuality, Stark merely did exactly what TVC quotes him saying above: he responded to an inquiry from the Secular Coalition for America. Since then, he has declined to comment further.   

That statement TVC quotes above was sent out by email by Stark’s office, not delivered on the House floor.

Elsewhere, the Christian Seniors Association, a TVC front group run by Sheldon’s son-in-law, issued its own press statement calling on members of Congress to fight back against Stark’s atheism:

It is time for religious members of Congress to push back.  A simple declaration of a belief in God by members of Congress on the House floor will be greatly informative for the American people.

This is a fight which is destined to be fought in America and we think it should begin today.

Apparently, a simple declaration of nonbelief is enough to incite TVC and its proxies to launch an all-out religious war.  

For Fired Attorneys, Loyalty Was a One-Way Street

Amid the ever-widening scandal surrounding the purge of several U.S. attorneys, now involving everything from subpoenas to bipartisan calls for Attorney General Gonzales’s resignation, one interesting bit of information has so-far gone unnoticed:  the fact that several of the fired attorneys had previously been involved in supporting White House and Justice Department efforts to secure passage and renewal of the Patriot Act.  

As Legal Times reported back in August 2004:

The Justice Department launched an unprecedented nationwide campaign in 2003 to boost support for the USA Patriot Act and beat back opponents. Recently obtained internal DOJ documents reveal just how organized and aggressive that push has been.

"Your role is educational only. You must not encourage citizens or public officials to make congressional contacts or to attempt to influence any vote concerning the USA Patriot Act," one DOJ memo states.

To avoid ethical pitfalls, Main Justice instructed the 93 Senate-confirmed U.S. attorneys, who are exempt from the Anti-Lobbying Act, to contact Congress members personally, not through staff.

Apparently, not every Attorney was eager to participate: 

Ethics and Public Policy Center Activist: Religious Right Should Take It Easy on Politics?

Lest they “lose their very soul,” warns Cromartie. Also: “the only person who takes Pat Robertson seriously is Tim Russert.”

The “Maturing” Right-Wing Voters

One has to wonder just what world right-wing commentator Cal Thomas inhabits.  The fact that the Right is resoundingly under-whelmed and dismayed by the current crop of GOP presidential frontrunners is not to be taken as a sign that their influence may be waning, but rather as sign that “Conservative Evangelical Christian voters” are supposedly “maturing” in their political outlook: 

Conservative Evangelical Christian voters have come a long way in a short time. From their nearly unanimous condemnation of Bill Clinton for his extramarital affairs, a growing number of these “pro-family” voters appear ready to accept several Republican presidential candidates who do not share their ideal of marriage and faith.

Thomas then goes on to recount the various infidelities of Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, and John McCain before concluding

That substantial numbers of conservative evangelical voters are even considering these candidates as presidential prospects is a sign of their political maturation and of their more pragmatic view of what can be expected from politics and politicians.

Seeing as these men are widely considered to be among the GOP’s frontrunner and that the first Republican presidential primary is still almost a year away, these voters don’t really have much choice but to consider these candidates at this point.  Nonetheless, according to the most recent New York Times/CBS News poll, they don’t seem too happy about it:


Are you generally satisfied with the candidates now running for the Republican nomination for President, or do you wish there were more choices?

Satisfied – 40%

More choices – 57%

DK/NA – 2%

But if, in fact, “conservative evangelical voters” really are willing consider these candidates despite their past infidelities, then they are a lot more forgiving and mature than some of their self-described political leaders, who are actively writing off GOP candidates for an endless variety of reasons:

Coveting Religious-Right Support, Giuliani Deploys Promise on Judicial Nominations

Last month, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention declared Rudy Giuliani’s campaign for president doomed, citing the former New York mayor’s reputation as a supporter of gay rights and a woman’s right to choose. He told The Hill that “If [Giuliani] wins, he’ll do so without social conservatives” – a result Land considered impossible. But less than two weeks later, Giuliani garnered a warm reception at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he side-stepped social wedge issues and emphasized his supposedly Reagan-like leadership qualities in the context of 9/11. Conservative columnist Bob Novak declared Giuliani “the big winner here,” and he came in second to Mitt Romney in the CPAC straw poll. Unlike Romney, noted Novak, “Giuliani had not stacked the crowd with supporters,” a strategy that casts doubt on Romney’s first-place showing. And Giuliani continues to top polls of primary voters.

According to Novak, “Some activists expressed dismay that so many conservatives would cheer Giuliani without even making him offer anything for the Right” – apparently flying in the face of what every other Republican candidate has been doing for the past few months. But it’s still early in the campaign. Giuliani is scheduled to speak at Pat Robertson’s Regent University next month, and the televangelist himself has declared that the former mayor “did a super job running the city of New York and I think he'd make a good president.” Last year, he helped raise money for Ralph Reed, an unsuccessful candidate for Georgia lieutenant governor who is better known as the former head of the Christian Coalition and one of the seminal organizers of the Religious Right in the late 80s and 90s.

And recently, he has been making promises to the far Right on an issue that could be seen as a calculated revision of his abortion position: judges. “On the federal judiciary I would want judges who are strict constructionists because I am,” he announced in South Carolina. And he offered specific praise for right-wing members of the Supreme Court: “I think those are the kinds of justices I would appoint -- Scalia, Alito and Roberts.” Such statements fall short of the ham-handed pandering of long-shot candidate Rep. Duncan Hunter (“If any judicial candidate comes before me and can look at a sonogram … and not see valuable life, then I will not appoint him,” said Hunter to applause at CPAC), but they do echo almost exactly the words President George W. Bush deployed when he was campaigning for the office.

2008: Brownback Admits Emphasis on Marriage as Top Issue 'May Seem a Little out of Step'

Invokes football analogy. (Calling George Allen supporters?)

Rigging the Vote at CPAC

The year’s CPAC event was pretty much like every other CPAC:  candidates pandered, right-wing speakers launched crazy accusations, a vibe of general weirdness pervaded … and Ann Coulter said something predictably moronic.

But everything appears to have worked out for Gov. Mitt Romney, who was so committed to winning CPAC’s meaningless straw poll that his campaign brought in some 225 students to stuff the ballot box.  And it paid off, with Romney winning 21 percent of the 1,705 votes cast, meaning Romney received 359 votes.

So, ignoring the 225 votes Romney bought and paid for, he received only 134 votes among the other 1480 cast, giving him just over 9% - less than Giuliani (17%), Brownback (15%), Gingrich (14%), and McCain (12%).  

Considering that Gingrich isn’t even an announced candidate and McCain openly snubbed the event, Romney’s “victory” appears to have been anything but.  

Things You See at CPAC

In addition to getting to hear multiple jokes about Al Gore’s purported energy consumption, listen to Ben Shapiro allege that “the Left” will eventually claim that there is a right to child molestation or Rep. Jeb Hensarling repeatedly refer to the “Democrat” majority in Congress, and maybe spy Michelle Malkin blogging away at the “Bloggers Corner,” there is lots to see and experience at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

For instance, if you are lucky, you get to sit next to college-age women who applaud wildly when the speaker on stage vows to kill efforts to publicly finance elections before turning to their friends and asking “who is that?” (It’s Sen. Mitch McConnell.)  Or you get to watch White House spokesperson Tony Snow deliver a rousing, patriotic speech claiming that the GOP’s devastating election losses in November was due to conservatives ”reminding” corrupt elected officials that government service is a privilege and crowing to the right-wing crowd about all the great things President Bush has done, like passage of Medicare prescription drug coverage – something which CPAC’s host, the American Conservative Union, and pretty much everyone else on the Right hates.   And then you get to watch the capacity crowd jump to its feet to give Snow a standing ovation.  

When you are leaving, you might get to stand in line next to grown man sporting an “I Told Hillary Where to Stick It” sticker on his suit and if you happen to step outside, you might catch a glimpse of G. Gordon Liddy and his driver climbing into a truck displaying “XFBI” vanity license plates.  

Later, you get to watch Sen. Arlen Specter attempt to convince a sparse but hostile crowd that he shares a great many of their right-wing positions and has been good on the issue of judges, and then witness him receive his only real ovations when he mocks Sen. Ted Kennedy’s weight and mentions how much he misses Sen. Rick Santorum.   

But most importantly, you get to see GOP presidential hopefuls pulling out all the stops in hopes of winning the CPAC straw poll:  

The straw poll at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference beginning here Thursday has never played a pivotal role in a Republican presidential primary. But the Mitt Romney campaign nonetheless is paying for three vans, scores of registration fees and at least a half-dozen hotel rooms to pack collegiate supporters into the event.

The turnout drive — 10 months before the first primary — is the latest sign of both the early start and bulging budgets of the 2008 presidential campaign. But the conference may be especially important to Mr. Romney, who is trying to reassure social conservatives that his views have shifted to the right from some of the liberal positions he took as the governor of Massachusetts.

The Romney camp’s efforts were certainly noticeable at the event, with students in Romney t-shirts seemingly standing at every corner handing out invitations to a “Romney Reception With Special Guest Grover Norquist” and all around making their presence felt.  Supporters of Sen. Sam Brownback were also out in full force, along with a few Tom Tancredo supporters sporting cowboy hats and TheVanguard.org stickers, as well as a lone women with a hand written “Write in Condi Rice” sign.

But for all of Romney’s planning, he couldn’t prevent the appearance of someone dressed in a dolphin costume going by the name “Flip Romney”:


“Flip” was all over the place, generating lots of attention while he slammed Romney’s record and handed out flyers with the heading “Pro-Life Students Against Flip-Floppers from Massachusetts” that, in actuality, came from the Rightmarch.com PAC.

And that is just Day 1, before Sen. Jim Inhofe has even had a chance to presumably tell those in attendance that Global Warming is a crock, or Mychal Massie has had an opportunity explain his “Conservative Solutions for Urban America” and maybe call diversity “Hitlerian,” or Ann Coulter wows the capacity crowd with her witticisms such as “we need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals by making them realize that they could be killed.”  

2008: Ominous Start to South Carolina GOP Primary

Anonymous mailings target Romney’s Mormonism; McCain disavows. Meanwhile: Eying straw poll, Romney sponsors “dozens” of students at CPAC.

Unlucky in November, Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment Group Turns to States

The Alliance for Marriage, a group founded to agitate for a federal constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, is starting a “Marriage Protection Caucus” of state legislators as part of a “fifty-state strategy.” Citing November’s “shift in the balance of power in Washington,” AFM President Matt Daniels says he is building support for future ratification of such an amendment in state legislators – but at the same time, the group is pushing for more states to amend their own constitutions to prevent gay marriage.

Other groups fighting against gay unions, such as Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, are welcoming the move, but they are looking beyond marriage to other legal protections they could ban:

"The first phase of the fight has been passing state marriage amendments declaring marriage as one man and one woman," [Focus on the Family Action’s Carrie Gordon] Earll said. "However, the next phase will be fighting against what has been called 'marriage lite' -- passage of counterfeit marriage efforts through domestic partnership and civil union legislation. That's where the battle lies, and we welcome everyone who will help with it."

AFM gave its supporters a preview of their new strategy in an e-mail last November, and in addition to “expanding our massive power base in the states,” apparently manifested in its new “Marriage Protection Caucus,” it plans on “deploying” minorities and making the case that same-sex unions portend “the loss of civil rights for those who believe in the timeless definition of marriage.”

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Politics Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Monday 11/08/2010, 6:41pm
The audio from last week's conference call with Jim Garlow, Newt Gingrich, and David Barton has been posted online. What kind of criminal uses someone else's credit card to donate $4000 to John Hagee? Mike Pence will decide if he is going to run for President early next year. Dutch Sheets and Lance Wallnau are launching a "Congress on Reformation." Larry Klayman credits WorldNetDaily and Fox News for the Republicans' electoral victories. Finally, did you know that the Big Bang was created by God just like fireworks were created by man? MORE
Miranda Blue, Monday 11/08/2010, 5:40pm
Following Tuesday's election, RWW will bring you our list of the "The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress." Our third candidate profile is Mississippi state senator and self-described “crusader” Alan Nunnelee. Mississippi Democrat Travis Childers was a prime target for the GOP the moment he took office after a special election in May, 2008 in a seat that Republicans had held for 14 years. One of the most conservative Democrats in the House, Childers opposed health care reform and abortion rights, supported gun rights, and voted with his party less often than... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 11/05/2010, 4:58pm
Just a reminder to GOProud: just because the Left doesn't like you, it doesn't mean that the right-wing does. When even George W. Bish thinks Sarah Palin is a joke, that is saying something. Will the Religious Right please stop screaming about this nonsense now? Randall Terry is already going after John Boehner. Jim Garlow frets that Democrats are going to destroy California. It really is amazing how the Religious Right is fundamentally unwilling to condemn Lisa Miller for kidnapping her daughter and disappearing. I find it quite remarkable how David... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 11/04/2010, 5:50pm
Stephanie Mencimer @ Mother Jones: Ralph Reed's Teavangelicals. Crooks and Liars: Michele Bachmann Accuses Obama Administration of Taking India Trip at Cost of $200 Million a Day. Joe.My.God: Democratic Iowa Senate Leader Vows To Block Any Gay Marriage Repeal Attempt. David Weigel: FreedomWorks: Social Issues Lost Colorado for Ken Buck. Steve Benen: What they lack in governing abilities, they make for with 'guerrilla tactics'. Sam Stein @ Huffington Post: Sarah Palin Complains About Invasion Of Her Privacy On First Episode Of Her Reality Show. MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 11/04/2010, 5:36pm
Gary Bauer is very excited by the idea of Chris Christie running for president in 2012. Um ... who cares what Peter LaBarbera has to say on the issue of gerrymandering? Are we back to this already? So it's having a candidate that is good at selling a message that wins elections?  Wow, thanks for that brilliant insight. You have got to love that Randall Terry is looking for candidates in 2012 "who will show aborted babies in their television ads." That is his sole criteria.  Brian Fischer puts the GOP on notice that they are now the enemy... MORE
Brian Tashman, Thursday 11/04/2010, 1:30pm
Following Tuesday's election, RWW will bring you our list of the "The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress."  Our first candidate is Florida's version of Sharron Angle, Sandra "Sandy" Adams: After serving four terms in the Florida State House, Sandy Adams ran for US Congress and handily defeated freshman Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas. She built-up a far-right voting record as a state representative, and she campaigned as the most conservative candidate in the competitive Republican primary. As a legislator and candidate Sandy Adams has embraced the... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 11/04/2010, 11:31am
We've written about Chuck Pierce several times before, most recently noting his participation in prayer effort in Washington DC for a week-long effort called "The Glory Shift" at which self-proclaimed "prophets" gathered to "rescue the nation from the spirit of greed that is destroying our nation, and realign our country with her destiny course" though the election. Well, it looks like the effort was a success because Pierce is now proclaiming that God has finally shifted the nation ... and you know if must be true because God regularly talks to Pierce about... MORE