Fake news host Stephen Colbert couldn’t get his presidential campaign off the ground. Will real news host Lou Dobbs make the cut? In an online commentary last week, the populist CNN host, who has come to be the television voice of the anti-immigrant movement, wrote:
I believe that independent Americans will demand a far better choice than any of the candidates now seeking their party’s nomination. I believe next November’s surprise will be the election of a man or woman of great character, vision and accomplishment, a candidate who has not yet entered the race.
The idea of a Dobbs candidacy has been floated before—and there are already a couple “Draft Dobbs” websites. But recently, major figures on the Right—including James Dobson—have made threats to bolt from the GOP, and while there are surely points on Dobbs’s platform they would abhor (like his view of Iraq), immigration is not one of them.
In protesting the Bob Dole—Bill Clinton race in 1996, Dobson voted for the Constitution Party (then called the U.S. Taxpayers Party), whose founder, Howard Phillips, has also been part of recent discussions about bolting. This party would likely be the focus of any religious-right third-party candidacy, and it may be a nexus between the Religious Right and the nativist Right: Prominent anti-immigration activists Jim Gilchrist, Alan Keyes, and Jerome Corsi have all been named as potential Constitution Party candidates.
Dobbs, like Tom Tancredo, has a very dedicated core of followers, who may even drive him out of his TV job and into a quixotic, Ross Perot-like campaign. But actual electoral success based on stirring up anti-immigrant sentiment is a lot harder to achieve, as Virginia Republicans learned this month.