Splitting The Religious Right

While the Democratic contest for presidential nominee continues to be something of a bore, the Republican race continues to get more and more interesting, and while former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani has a strong lead nationwide in the polls, the primaries couldn’t be more wide open.

Among the many different underlying stories within the GOP primary elections, one of the most significant has been the behavior of the Religious Right, often seen as one of the Republican party’s most potent political power centers.  In a largely unimpressive field where most of the leading candidates have more than their fair share of obstacles to appeasing the socially conservative base, the fate of who would gain the attention of the country’s most powerful Christian leaders, or if anyone gets anything at all, has been a question mark plaguing the campaigns.

The stagnation of extreme Christian political support had, in fact, grown to such proportions that some wondered if they would come out to play at all during the primary season, or perhaps even in the general election.  But then, like dominoes, things began to fall.

Mitt was looking to gain a good start.  After dealing with the impediment that his own religion provided in garnering the support of the Religious Right, Romney enjoyed a great deal of success at a recent Values Voters straw poll, and then managed to pick up the endorsement of co-founder of the Moral Majority, Paul Weyrich.

Before the glow of such an important victory would have the chance to wear off, Rudy Giuliani seemed to pluck a bigger fish out of the water with Pat Robertson of the CBN and Christian Coalition.  At almost the exact same time, John McCain got something of a little lift when Sam Brownback gave the Maverick his endorsement (though not necessarily a leader in the Religious Right itself, Brownback does carry a decent amount of weight among its numbers).

Now another big Christian name has decided to pick a horse publicly.

In a move that is sure to shake up even more an already shaky race, founder of Focus on the Family, Dr. James Dobson, has elected to endorse former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

Dobson, who following the 2004 election sent a personal letter to President Bush telling him to ignore the liberals because he “owes them nothing,” believes he can change the entire landscape of this Republican contest.  But he’ll be working on this change, strangely enough, against the influences of Robertson, Weyrich, and Brownback.

Which brings about some interesting questions.  With some of the biggest names in Christian politics all picking different horses, will we be able to tell who will exert the most influence over the race?  Or will they mutually count each other out, leaving the core of the Religious Right, its foot soldiers, largely insignificant?

Also, following the convention, once the nominee is picked, are we apt to see these forces unite together under one candidate?  Or will the fractures we see now stay in place, leaving the Republican nominee with only a fraction of the Religious Right’s support?

In any case, I do think that in the short term, Huckabee has the most to gain.  He’s the lowest in the polls, but has also shown steady growth.  Huck already has great credentials among the socially conservative crowd, but suffers I think primarily from name recognition and perhaps from being too much of a nice guy.  The latter is something he is going to have to deal with on his own, but if Dobson can make the first problem essentially non-existent, well, that just makes this race all the more interesting.

4 Responses to “Splitting The Religious Right”

  1. The fighting between the religious right should provide a good deal of entertainment for this round of elections. It also might make me a bad person, but I really hope to see a couple of people (either religious leaders or the politicians) turn out to be gay on drugs or both. The fallout and stumbling about of people to explain it away in a coherent manner just always makes me smile.

  2. That is so not nice. I totally disagree, and would absolutely HATE watching Pat Robertson get on the 700 club and explain that he only supported Rudy because he was gay.

    Sure wouldn’t like it…

    nope.

    not at all.

  3. Yea that would just suck.

  4. Naughten says:

    TREASON AGAINST GOD AND COUNTRY

    When did Giuliani’s Christian God give him the right to support Human sacrifice, women killing their own children?

    When did his American Constitution give him the right to sacrifice the wealth and blood of the American People, on behalf of domestic and foreign lobbies?

    If neither his Christian God, nor his American Constitution, are sacred to him; why would his promises to the American People be sacred to him?

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