Who Speaks for the Right?
There has been a lot of head-scratching and dismay about what is driving Pat Robertson’s endorsement of Rudy Giuliani, especially from those on the Right:
OneNewsNow contacted several pro-family leaders to get their reaction to the Robertson endorsement. Some did not return calls, while others said they did not want to comment. One of them, a close personal friend of Robertson, said he believes the endorsement is "tragic," and that if Giuliani wins the nomination, it "will destroy the Republican Party."
Connie Mackey, a senior vice president of the Family Research Council, disputed Robertson's contention that Giuliani was an acceptable candidate for Christian conservatives.
"This is a man whose supporters basically are pro-family, pro-life, pro-traditional-marriage, and here he has stepped away from them to endorse a candidate who has been very honest in saying he does not support those issues," Mackey said of Robertson. "It's beyond puzzling -- it's a little strange."
Many former Christian conservative allies dismissed the endorsement as an inexplicable stunt. They noted that Mr. Robertson, 77, had lost much of his influence since the heady days of his second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses 20 years ago when he ran for the Republican presidential nomination.
“What support he has left,” said Connie Mackey, a vice president of the public policy arm of the evangelical Family Research Council, “is obviously going to be eroded by this very strange endorsement.”
"This endorsement is a grave disappointment and illustrates the confusion in the evangelical ranks," said the Rev. Rick Scarborough of the Lufkin-based group Vision America.
"Social conservatives such as Pat Robertson who back pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage candidates do a disservice to the conservative movement. At the end of the day, we have to stand for something, or our movement has no purpose.”
With his endorsement of Rudy Giuliani for president of the United States, he has me doubting him – big time … Has Robertson lost his mind? Has he lost his principles? Has he sold out? If so, to whom and for what?
The interesting subtext to this development is Robertson’s apparent belief that it is he who really speaks for GOP’s right-wing’ core supporters:
"I thought it was important for me to make it clear that Rudy Giuliani is more than acceptable to people of faith," said Robertson. "Given the fractured nature of the process, I thought it was time to solidify around one candidate."
He insisted that while some on the "fringe" of the social conservative movement may see Giuliani as an unacceptable nominee, the "core know better."
Ever since the decline of his once-powerful Christian Coalition, Robertson has been something of the odd-man-out in the world of right-wing DC powerbrokers, eclipsed by the likes of the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family. While the various cliques on the Right are willing to mingle and attend one another’s conferences and events, Robertson has never been included and it clearly irks him, especially since the joint FRC/FOF “Values Voter Summit” has replaced the Christian Coalition’s now defunct “Road to Victory” conferences as the year’s major Religious Right showcase.
When David Brody of Robertson’s own CBN News filed a report last month on the Values Voter Summit, Robertson could barely hide his contempt:
I’m not sure that that group in Washington is really representative of Evangelicals across the spectrum. This Is the Family Research Council and some of James Dobson’s supporters – I just think that’s a narrow slice of Evangelical thought.
It is quite possible that Robertson’s endorsement of Giuliani was, at least in part, an attempt to reclaim some of his flagging influence while generating some attention for himself that, for once, doesn’t stem from his having said something idiotic.
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