Rolling Stone blogger Tim Dickinson recently talked to Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist about the right-wing credentials of the leading GOP candidates for president. Norquist, a key organizer of the D.C.-based coalition of economic and social conservatives, declared that the anti-abortion and anti-gay litmus test proffered by the Religious Right is hooey: “What brings social conservatives to the Republican party is not some list of 20 things that James Dobson would like to see.” Instead, according to Norquist, they are really a “parents-rights movement” who “are worried about raising their kids in their own faith and being left alone.” Says Norquist:
You can make the argument that some candidates would be more enthusiastic about going further on the social conservative agenda, and some may well excite the leadership of the social conservative movement, but I don’t believe that it moves votes. Take a look at how McCain and Giuliani and Romney are polling. Who are the three top guys? Pat Robertson sees two pagans and a Mormon. Everybody’s heard that Giuliani dressed up in drag. If my analysis was wrong, would he be polling as well as he is? Romney is a Mormon, which evangelicals see as theologically flawed, and McCain picked a public fight in 2000 with Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. Those are the three Republicans polling the best!
If 40 percent of the GOP base truly had Dobson’s 20 point test then a candidate such as Huckabee should be one of the frontrunners. He’s not, and that’s why I think my analysis is the correct one. The press is going to want to talk about and solicit quotations from self-appointed leaders about how unacceptable certain of these candidates are. I don’t think that translates.
This isn’t the first time a prominent leader of the economic Right has singled out Dobson: Dick Armey, head of FreedomWorks and the former House majority leader, attacked “Dobson and his gang of thugs” last year.