Gary Bauer’s Presidential ‘Marketplace’

Richard Land isn’t the only religious-right leader carrying water for Fred Thompson following James Dobson’s anti-endorsement of the former senator and TV prosecutor. Gary Bauer—a former senior vice president at Dobson’s Focus on the Family and former president of the Focus spin-off Family Research Council—called Dobson’s comment’s unhelpful in avoiding the “nightmare scenario” of a Giuliani-Clinton race.

Bauer has been a Thompson booster for a while now. Back in April, Bauer was one of the first to urge Thompson to run, saying that religious-right favorites Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback had dim electoral prospects. In July, Bauer was quick to call reports of Thompson’s lobbying for a pro-choice group a “nonissue,” and in August, Bauer was again out front trying to deflect a potential hazard after Thompson appeared to retract support for a federal anti-gay marriage amendment, although these efforts weren’t enough to sway an endorsement from the influential Arlington Group, which includes both Dobson and Bauer as well as Land and occasional Thompson-booster Tony Perkins.

Now, as Dobson, Perkins, and others have backed away from Thompson, the best Bauer can do is say that such leaders are taking the approach of “Let the marketplace choose which one ends up being the best candidate.” “It’s a very fluid situation, and it’s possible that a very significant number of people will say, ‘I’m going to work with all of them and wait,’” he added.

In the meantime, Bauer wants to narrow that marketplace down, calling on second-tier candidates—like Huckabee and Brownback—to withdraw:

“[W]e’ve got a bunch of other candidates who can’t get above five percent — and some of them are very good [and] are saying things we like. But the longer they stay in the race, the more likely [it] is we are going to wake up next year with nobody we can vote for,” he says.

Of course, at this point in his own second-tier presidential campaign in 2000, when Bauer was 45 points down from then-Gov. George W. Bush, he had a different idea: “I intend to be the last guy standing.”

[Bauer] said he’s listening to the “marketplace” and it’s telling him: “Go, Gary, go.” (Washington Times, “Bauer not deterred by polls,” 11/1/1999)