Several weeks ago, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins hosted a press briefing at the National Press Club to discuss just what it is that the Religious Right is seeking in a Republican presidential nominee.
During the Q&A, Perkins was asked to discuss the idea that the very positions that make a candidate appealing to the Religious Right are the same positions that make such candidates unappealing to the general voting population.
Not surprisingly, Perkins took issue with that assessment and asserted instead that without the support of the Religious Right, no Republican candidate can hope to win the general elections and pointed to John McCain as proof:
This idea that a candidate that would be supported by social conservatives that would win the Republican nomination would be unacceptable to the general populace is just not true. I think the opposite it true; we saw that in the last election cycle. There was a Republican nomination that was not acceptable to social conservatives. He did not have the enthusiastic support of social conservatives and, as a result, the Republicans lost the general election.
Now, obviously McCain and the Religious Right had a rather contentious history, but to say that the McCain campaign did not receive the “enthusiastic support of social conservatives” requires one to completely ignore the rapturous lovefest that exploded when McCain announced the selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, which we chronicled at the time:
James Dobson, Focus on the Family: “A lot of people were praying, and I believe Sarah Palin is God’s answer.”
Tony Perkins, Family Research Council: “Senator McCain made an outstanding pick.”
Connie Mackey, FRCAction: “I am elated with Senator McCain’s choice.”
Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel: “Absolutely brilliant choice.”
Richard Land: “Governor Palin will delight the Republican base.”
Rick Scarborough, Vision America, “I’m elated. I think it’s a superb choice.”
Ralph Reed: “They’re beyond ecstatic. This is a home run.”
Gary Bauer, American Values: “[A] grand slam home run.”
Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum: “She is the best possible choice.”
Janet Folger, Faith2Action: “[T]he selection of Sarah Palin is more than ‘Brilliant!’ ‘Electrifying!’ and ‘Energizing!’ The selection of Sarah Palin will lead to words like: ‘Rejuvenating!’ ‘Victory!’ and ‘Landslide!’”
Wendy Wright, Concerned Women for America: “Governor Palin will change the dynamics of the entire presidential race.”
Janice Shaw Crouse, CWA’s Beverly LaHaye Institute: “She is an outstanding woman who will be an excellent role model for the nation’s young people.”
David Barton, Wallbuilders: “The talk won’t be about, ‘look at Sarah Palin’ as much as ‘look at what McCain’s choice of Palin says about McCain’s core beliefs.”
Jonathan Falwell: “John McCain made it very clear that his administration was going to be a pro-life administration, and he proved that’s his belief and his passion today with the choice of Sarah Palin.”
Jerry Falwell, Jr.: “I think it’s a brilliant choice.”
Charmaine Yoest, Americans United for Life: “And then when [Palin] was announced — it was like you couldn’t breathe. [We] were grabbing each other and jumping up and down.”
Gary Marx, Judicial Confirmation Network: “I can tell you that this pick tells millions in the base of the party that they can trust McCain. More specifically that they can trust him with Supreme Court picks and other key appointments’”
David Keene, American Conservative Union: “The selection of Governor Palin is great news for conservatives, for the party and for the country. I predict any conservatives who have been lukewarm thus far in their support of the McCain candidacy will work their hearts out between now and November for the McCain-Palin ticket.”
If social conservatives were unenthusiastic about the McCain ticket last time around, some apparently forgot to tell all of these social conservatives who were gushing about just how thrilled they were.