Last week on Time’s Swampland blog, Michael Scherer took notice of Focus on the Family Action’s post-South Carolina primary political analysis and observed that, despite the fact that those involved have all refused to endorse any candidate, they certainly seemed to have a favorite candidate:
The video about Rudy Giuliani suggests that the former New York mayor would appoint a judge who would uphold Roe v. Wade, and knocks him for dressing in drag on Saturday Night Live. The video on John McCain hits the Arizona senator for campaign finance reform, his opposition to the federal marriage amendment and his 2000 comments about Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. “You want someone to depend on when you are in a fight, and you never really know where he is going to be,” says Perkins about McCain in the video.
This is all to be expected. But then it gets controversial. The video on Mike Huckabee, who is the overwhelming favorite among the nation’s evangelical voters, is surprisingly harsh. After praising Huckabee’s social views, both Perkins and Tom Minnery, a policy expert at Focus on the Family, hammer the former Arkansas governor for his foreign policy views. Minnery suggests that Huckabee does not understand the cause for which American troops are dying in Iraq. Then Perkins suggests that Huckabee lacks the fiscal and national security credentials needed for a conservative presidential candidate. “The conservatives have been successful in electing candidates, and presidents in particular, when they have had a candidate that can address not only the social issues, [but] the fiscal issues and the defense issues,” says Perkins. “[Huckabee] has got to reach out to the fiscal conservatives and the security conservatives.” Ouch.
So what about Romney? He comes up roses. “He has staked out positions on all three of the areas that we have discussed,” says Perkins. “I think he continues to be solidly conservative.” Then Minnery defends Romney from criticism that he is too polished and smooth. “Mitt Romney has acknowledged that Mormonism is not a Christian faith,” Minnery adds. “But on the social issues we are so similar.”
Scherer went on to note that Mat Staver, a Huckabee backer, complained that the analysis of Huckabee was “lacking objectivity and context” and, shortly thereafter, Focus on the Family Action went back and re-edited the video to include more praise for Huckabee’s stand on social issues.
Scherer concluded logically that this could amount to a “stealth endorsement” of Romney, but Tom Minnery, of Focus on the Family and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council both insist that it is nothing of the sort:
First of all, rest assured that we have not been endorsing any candidates, either “stealthily” or otherwise. Our comments are what they are — a review of what the candidates, both Democrat and Republican, are saying on issues we think Christians care about.
Last Saturday night, after the polls closed in South Carolina, I joined our friends at Focus on the Family Action in a live web cast discussion of the election returns. My comments about each of the presidential candidates were excerpted for home page clips on the Focus Action web site. The interpretation being given to those comments by some is just wrong. I have not endorsed any candidate for the White House and have no plans to do so.
They may deny that they are supporting Romney, but seeing as James Dobson and his ilk have already ruled out the possibility of supporting John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, and refuse to back Mike Huckabee, the process of elimination and their own rhetoric suggests that Romney is indeed their candidate of choice.