Amid the reports and speculation about the potential for the Religious Right to abandon the Republican Party should Rudy Giuliani be its presidential nominee in 2008, it looks as if even those who participated in the ultra-secretive deliberations don’t even agree about what the purpose of such a move might be.
While Gary Bauer was primarily concerned about what sort of dangerous and counter-productive implications such talk might have for the Republican Party and the right-wing movement, Tony Perkins was stating that while they have no desire to abandon the GOP, they would do so if necessary:
[T]he intent here is not to create a third party. What — what we`re saying is — like myself, you know, I came to the political process. I ran for office, held office, because of the issue of life. And — and the vast majority of social conservatives came to the Republican Party because of the life issue and the other social issues. If the party leaves those issues, I think it`s unreasonable for them to demand that they stay in the party. And I don`t think they will.
And then you have Richard Viguerie, who was also at the meeting, telling Matt Lewis of Townhall.com something else entirely:
Viguerie believes the conservative movement has been lied to by the establishment Republicans for 45 years, and that it may be time to launch a true conservative party. He resents the idea espoused by some Republicans that conservatives “have no other place to go.”
He tells me that the 3rd party rumor isn’t an ad hoc one-time effort to stop Rudy Giuliani, as was reported (I wonder how the rumors that this was about Rudy got started???). Instead, it is a long-term paradigm shift in which conservatives will forever leave the GOP, it’s natural home since Ronald Reagan:
“If we do this, we’re going to do a very well thought-out, well-planned effort … this is not something that will be effective just for the ’08 presidential election.”
Unlike other years when conservatives have fielded candidates merely to make a point, Viguerie tells me this new idea “goes far beyond the ’08 elections”.
While Bauer’s main goal is to maintain the Right’s standing and influence within the Republican Party and Perkins says there is no desire to create a third party alternative to the GOP, Viguerie appears intent on destroying once and for all the bond between the Right and the political party he feels has done nothing but lie to them.
If these right-wing activists and leaders had hoped that by threatening to abandon the GOP they would in some way help unify the movement heading into 2008, it looks as, so far, they’ve only managed to accomplish the exact opposite.