If we could sum up the EFM approach in one sentence it is this: “To know the Governor is to love him.” In other words, our goal is to (at the very least) make sure that individuals hear the Governor and learn about him with an open mind. While we wish we were eloquent enough to “close the deal” for interested members of the voting public, we know that is unrealistic. Voters (including Christian voters) tend to make decisions only after exposure to the actual candidate.
As we have long noted, conservative Christians are sophisticated enough to understand that they are considering a president, not a pastor, and (as we have long predicted) when they see the Governor, they like him. A lot. This is from John Fund’s report on the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit:
Right now John McCain is the front-runner for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. But everyone expects that a single major competitor will emerge to challenge him from the right. The question hung in the air of this past weekend’s Family Research Council summit in Washington: Who will that candidate be for the GOP’s powerful social conservative base?
FRC officials says they invited Mr. McCain to speak, but he declined. But another potential candidate benefited greatly from showing up. Surprisingly, it was Massachusetts’ Gov. Mitt Romney, a Mormon with a Harvard M.B.A who governs the nation’s most liberal state. The 1,800 delegates applauded him frequently during his Friday speech and gave him a standing ovation afterward. Mr. Romney detailed his efforts to block court-imposed same-sex marriage in the Bay State and noted that the liberal Legislature has failed to place a citizen-initiated referendum on the ballot. He excoriated liberals for supporting democracy only when they think that the outcome is a foregone conclusion that favors their views. He certainly picked up fans at the summit. “I believe Mitt Romney may be the only hope social conservatives have in 2008,” says Maggie Gallagher, author of a book defending traditional marriage.
And what of the religion issue? Fund says the following:
The tall barrier many see as blocking his acceptance by evangelical voters–the fact that many Americans view Mormonism with suspicion or worse–may prove to be a mirage. “Everyone I talked to said they didn’t have a problem with it,” one attendee told me. “If enough people say that to each other, Romney creates a virtuous circle in which evangelical activists decide he’s acceptable.” Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition, notes that something similar has happened in recent years as devout Catholic and evangelical Protestants have increasingly focused on areas of agreement. “Romney won’t be the ideal choice for evangelicals, but against a McCain in the primary or a Hillary Clinton in the general election there’s no doubt where most would go,” he says.
Simply put, there is no presidential contender with more momentum than Mitt Romney, and (much to the media’s undoubted surprise) much of that momentum is coming from evangelicals.
Who woulda thought? Well, maybe some people.