Back when Fred Thompson was being hailed as the Republican Party’s savior, there was one man showering Thompson with praise every opportunity he had: Richard Land. Last July, Land gushed to the Washington Post that Thompson was the second coming of Reagan and the great right-wing hope:
“I’m around a lot of Baptists,” Land said. “They find Fred Thompson to be a tantalizing combination of charisma, conviction and electability. He’s got a Reaganesque ability to connect with ordinary folk that is powerful.”
Land added: “He also has the same Teflon coating that Reagan had: Bad stuff just doesn’t stick.”
Despite his obvious support for Thompson over the other GOP candidates, Land insisted then, and continues to insist today, that he does not endorse candidates and is now citing that bogus position as justification for the fact that he is not being courted hard by John McCain:
CBSNews.com: You’ve not always been the biggest McCain fan. Has he done a good job in this campaign reaching out to you, and reaching out to the Southern Baptists you represent?
Richard Land: Well, I don’t endorse candidates. And so, girls who don’t dance don’t get invited to as many dances. I have not been the main object of Senator McCain’s attention because he knows I don’t endorse candidates. It’s my understanding that he has been reaching out to people that are considered opinion makers in the evangelical and the conservative Catholic world. I’ve had some contacts with the campaign. They have called me and asked me questions from time to time. And I have met with the senator a couple of times.
But just because he doesn’t “endorse” candidates, whatever that means, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have all sorts of opinions and advice for the McCain campaign regarding the issue of judges and his running mate:
I think he’s done a pretty good job. I think that the speech that he gave at Wake Forest on judges was a very helpful one–in which he reiterated that he was looking at Alito and Roberts as the kind of judges that he would appoint to be confirmed.
I think that the vice presidential choice that John McCain makes is probably the most important choice he’s going to make in this entire campaign. Because he has no room for error, no margin for doubt. If he picks a pro-choice running mate, it will confirm the unease and the mistrust that some evangelicals–and don’t forget this, social conservative Catholics–feel about McCain.
If he picks a pro-life running mate, it will help to ease their concerns and confirm to them that, while he may not have been their first choice, he may not have been their second choice, that it’s better to vote for a third class fireman than it is to allow a first class arsonist to become president.
Land goes on to rule out potential VP’s like Joe Lieberman and Tom Ridge while praising Mike Hucakbee, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, and Eric Cantor, and reiterating his attack that Barack Obama is the “most radically pro-abortion candidate to ever be nominated by a major party” and predicting that Obama will have no success in his efforts to “peel off a sizeable chunk of white evangelicals” because they have no intention of “surrendering their pro-life values.”
But still Land insists that not only is he not endorsing any candidate, he’s not even supporting one, while making his preference perfectly clear to anyone who can connect the dots:
CBSNews.com: Now, finally, I know you can’t endorse anybody. But, there’s no doubt who you’re supporting.
Richard Land: Well, I don’t support anybody. I do what I call upon Southern Baptists to do. I say that Southern Baptist pastors should never endorse candidates. But I think that Christians, of all stripes, should vote their values, their beliefs, and their convictions. And that those are far more important than their economic self interest. And so, I plan to practice what I preach. I’m going to vote my values, my beliefs, and my convictions. I don’t endorse candidates. But I look for candidates who endorse my values and my beliefs and my convictions. And I will leave people to connect their own dots.