This morning at the Values Voter Summit, an informal panel featured three heavyweights of the Religious Right: host Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; Alan Sears, head of the Alliance Defense Fund; and James Dobson, founder of both FRC and ADF and head of Focus on the Family. As they came up to the stage, the loudspeakers played “Gonna Fly Now,” the theme from “Rocky.”
Dobson recently returned from a rally in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — a state where right-wing icon Sen. Rick Santorum (who is speaking at the Values Voter Summit tomorrow morning) is facing a tough re-election battle. As in Pittsburgh, Dobson explained that he was hesitant to become involved in backing Republicans during the election cycle:
In 2004, we really did break our necks to turn out the vote. … I was criss-crossing the country trying to get people to turn out … And frankly … I have been disappointed by the Republicans.
Despite “so much talk about values voters,” said Dobson, “… they just didn’t have time for our agenda.” (Until this summer, Perkins noted later in the discussion, when Republican leaders met with the Right and embraced the “values agenda.”) Dobson said he was so disillusioned, he came to Washington to meet with leading Republicans. He came away with his commitment to electoral action in 2006 secure: “There is no choice because the alternative is terrible!”
And Dobson had a message for the “left-leaning quote unquote Evangelicals” who are, he said, “denouncing” the Values Voter Summit, and apparently as well for Evangelicals revealed in a recent poll to show little support for the Religious Right agenda: The people he’s talking to are the “Bible-believing Christians.”