The EFM Feature

Interesting take from TIME:

Christian right leaders are abuzz today because a new online candidate guide that has been posted by Focus on the Family Action, the political arm of Jim Dobson’s conservative Christian empire. The webpage offers edited excerpts of recent webcasts with the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, explaining where the candidates stand on “pro-family issues.”
The video about Rudy Giuliani suggests that the former New York mayor would appoint a judge who would uphold Roe v. Wade, and knocks him for dressing in drag on Saturday Night Live. The video on John McCain hits the Arizona senator for campaign finance reform, his opposition to the federal marriage amendment and his 2000 comments about Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. “You want someone to depend on when you are in a fight, and you never really know where he is going to be,” says Perkins about McCain in the video.
This is all to be expected. But then it gets controversial. The video on Mike Huckabee, who is the overwhelming favorite among the nation’s evangelical voters, is surprisingly harsh. After praising Huckabee’s social views, both Perkins and Tom Minnery, a policy expert at Focus on the Family, hammer the former Arkansas governor for his foreign policy views. Minnery suggests that Huckabee does not understand the cause for which American troops are dying in Iraq. Then Perkins suggests that Huckabee lacks the fiscal and national security credentials needed for a conservative presidential candidate. “The conservatives have been successful in electing candidates, and presidents in particular, when they have had a candidate that can address not only the social issues, [but] the fiscal issues and the defense issues,” says Perkins. “[Huckabee] has got to reach out to the fiscal conservatives and the security conservatives.” Ouch.
So what about Romney? He comes up roses. “He has staked out positions on all three of the areas that we have discussed,” says Perkins. “I think he continues to be solidly conservative.” Then Minnery defends Romney from criticism that he is too polished and smooth. “Mitt Romney has acknowledged that Mormonism is not a Christian faith,” Minnery adds. “But on the social issues we are so similar.”

I’m not saying the TIME story is right — and Minnery denies that it is. But I will suggest that it would be wise for religious-right leaders to distance themselves from Governor Huckabee. Social conservatism is a winning part of the conservative coalition — but it’s a loser on its own. In order to be successful, we need to partner with other conservatives, and we need a presidential candidate who can do the same. Governor Huckabee has shown repeatedly that he can’t do that; in fact, he alienates other conservatives because of his liberal and incoherent positions on fiscal and national-security issues. Signing on with him is thus a recipe for division in the conservative ranks and a loss in the election — and I’ll be pleased not to see leaders like Perkins and Minnery do it.

About Charles Mitchell

EFM's resident Yankee, Charles Mitchell, works in the non-profit arena in his native Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Charissa, live near the state capital of Harrisburg with their daughter, Adeline, and are members of a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.

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