Christian Right Labors to Find ’08 Candidate
WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 — A group of influential Christian conservatives and their allies emerged from a private meeting at a Florida resort this month dissatisfied with the Republican presidential field and uncertain where to turn.While it is obvious the Bush/Cheney administration has discredited the neocon ideology for years to come the same can be said for the religious right. The pandering by former enemies like McCain and Romney has not born fruit. Giuliani never had any chance at support from the lunatic fringe. Now I don't know who will get the Republican nomination but I do know it won't be someone the Dobsons will like. What this means is that one of the Republican's most reliable voting blocks may just stay home in 2008 or vote for a third party candidate.
The event was a meeting of the Council for National Policy, a secretive club whose few hundred members include Dr. James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family, the Rev. Jerry Falwell of Liberty University and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. Although little known outside the conservative movement, the council has become a pivotal stop for Republican presidential primary hopefuls, including George W. Bush on the eve of his 1999 primary campaign.
But in a stark shift from the group’s influence under President Bush, the group risks relegation to the margins. Many of the conservatives who attended the event, held at the beginning of the month at the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island, Fla., said they were dismayed at the absence of a champion to carry their banner in the next election.
Many conservatives have already declared their hostility to Senator John McCain of Arizona, who once denounced Christian conservative leaders as “agents of intolerance,” and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, a liberal on abortion and gay rights issues who has been married three times.
But many were also deeply suspicious of former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts; the council has been distributing to its members a dossier prepared by a Massachusetts conservative group about liberal elements of his record on abortion, stem cell research, gay rights and gun control. Mr. Romney says he has become more conservative.