The New York Times is reporting that a group of social conservatives are considering backing a third-party candidate should Rudy Giuliani win the GOP nomination.
The group making the threat, which came together Saturday in Salt Lake City during a break-away gathering during a meeting of the secretive Council for National Policy, includes Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who is perhaps the most influential of the group, as well as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, the direct mail pioneer Richard Viguerie and dozens of other politically-oriented conservative Christians, participants said. Almost everyone present expressed support for a written resolution that “if the Republican Party nominates a pro-abortion candidate we will consider running a third party candidate.”
I have serious problems with this idea. We are at war. This is no time for political stunts. But I’ll save–and hopefully never use–my support-Rudy-if-he-wins-the-primary spiel. For now I want to focus on the apparent foolishness of the so-called leaders of social conservatism, and show how the Conservative Messiah watch–the flames of which these leaders have helped fan–has led us to this moment.
Rudy has been a viable candidate for the GOP nomination for some time now. Check the polls in almost any state and you’ll see him at or near the top. This isn’t an accident. People respect him, like him, for all the reasons we know about. Astute political observers realized this a long time ago. Sure, many of us (including me) thought his poll numbers in places like South Carolina would nose dive once folks learned about his social liberalism, but it has been clear that that isn’t happening for months. But rather than facing this reality by uniting behind a bonafide social conservative with the experience and talent to run the government, many social conservatives decided to go on Conservative Messiah watch, telling any reporter with a heartbeat that they weren’t excited about the field and were hopeful that a “true conservative” would soon enter the race. Well, after months of waiting, we’ve finally seen that “true conservative.” His name is Fred Thompson and he doesn’t know enough about the Teri Schiavo incident to comment. And that’s only one aspect of his remarkably unappealing, indeed unnecessary, campaign.
But in recent days it has seemed that some social conservative leaders were beginning to see the error of their ways. An email of Dr. Dobson’s that was critical of Fred Thompson made its rounds, an indication to some that, by process of elimination, Dr. Dobson (and presumably others) were ready to support Gov. Romney. If that were the case, however, one might think that the leaked news out of the CNP conference might be that social conservatives were ready to rally around Gov. Romney. After all, the man has, among other things, fought for marriage and the unborn and against stem-cell research. That’s not even to mention his adroit understanding of the threat of radical Islam or his pro-growth vision to help America compete better in the global economy. But apparently that’s not good enough for the kingmakers. What do we get from them instead? How to Lose the 2008 Election 2.0 with a focus on how to damage a Giuliani candidacy that is still anything but certain. Thankfully though, and despite popular opinion, James Dobson, Tony Perkins and Richard Land don’t speak for the entire evangelical movement. We’re actually capable of making difficult political judgments on our own. In fact, a bunch of us made one in favor of Gov. Romney some time ago, with many more doing the same each day. Those planning the Alan Keyes ’08 ticket–which is really the Hillary ’08 ticket–are welcome to join us.