Craig Eisele on …..

January 15, 2012

Evangelical Leaders Go Against Romney on Religious Grounds

I have blogged about this before… but no one wants to admit that being a Mormon is a hurdle that Mitt Romney cannot overcome in a Presidential Election…. so Here is part one of 2 for today Sunday the 15th of January 2012

January 14, 2012

Evangelicals, Seeking Unity, Back Santorum for Nomination


BRENHAM, Tex. — Evangelical leaders pursued a last-ditch effort on Saturday to exert influence in the Republican presidential primary race, voting to support the candidacy of Rick Santorum in hopes of undercutting Mitt Romney’s march to the nomination.

A week before the South Carolina primary, a group of more than 100 influential Christian conservatives gathered at a ranch here and voted overwhelmingly to rally behind Mr. Santorum. An organizer described the vote as an “unexpected supermajority,” a decision that was intended to help winnow the Republican field and consolidate the opposition to Mr. Romney.

But the broader effect on the contest is less clear, particularly if the Republican field remains fractured. If the support had come earlier in the primary campaign, before Mr. Romney emerged as the leading candidate to beat, it could have had greater impact. In most surveys, Mr. Romney outpaces his rivals when respondents are asked who has the best chance of defeating President Obama.

Mr. Santorum, who fought Mr. Romney to a draw in the Iowa caucuses and has stirred enough concern in the eyes of a pro-Romney group to warrant a negative television ad in South Carolina, beamed when asked about the endorsement at a campaign stop on Saturday.

“They’ve looked at not just what we’ve been able to accomplish during this primary season so far,” Mr. Santorum told reporters in Mount Pleasant, S.C. “But they’ve looked at the track record of someone that’s been a strong, consistent voice across the board on all the conservative issues.”

Conservatives, after finding success in Congressional elections two years ago, are under significant pressure to reassert themselves in hopes of blunting the rise of Mr. Romney, who is derisively referred to by his opponents as a “Massachusetts moderate.” They openly question his consistency on social and fiscal conservatism.

Evangelical leaders, along with many other components of the conservative movement, have been fractured over the race, which contributed to Mr. Romney’s success in Iowa and New Hampshire. But with time running short and Mr. Romney holding considerable advantages, the leaders sought to table their divisions and chose, by a wide margin, to support Mr. Santorum over Newt Gingrich or Gov. Rick Perry of Texas.

The extent to which those attending the meeting will be able to mobilize their followers behind Mr. Santorum remains unclear. The group’s vote is not binding on participants and the leaders did not directly ask Mr. Gingrich or Mr. Perry to drop out of the race.

“There is a hope and an expectation that this will have an impact on South Carolina,” Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council and a spokesman for the group, said in a telephone news conference after the private meeting concluded.

The decision here in Texas came on the eve of the final Sunday church services before the South Carolina primary on Saturday. Mr. Santorum said that he raised $3 million in the last week and expected that the support would likely help him raise even more money and strengthen his campaign organization in the state.

“People are trying to assess not just who’s the most electable conservative, vis-à-vis Mitt Romney, but who’s the most electable, period,” Mr. Santorum said Saturday, adding that he was “not going to call on anybody to drop out of the race.”

The moment that word spread about the decision in Texas, allies of Mr. Gingrich forcefully pushed back against the suggestion that Mr. Santorum won the group’s support outright. They noted that many evangelical leaders remain firmly divided and have little sway over their congregations or members.

The power of the support for Mr. Santorum will be tested over the next seven days in South Carolina. In the Republican presidential primary there four years ago, exit polls found that 60 percent of voters said they considered themselves “born again” or evangelical Christians.

Evangelicals tend to be better informed and more independent that they were a generation ago, when the endorsement from a leader like Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson held huge sway, said Rev. Paul Jimenez, pastor of Taylors First Baptist Church in Greenville, S.C.

“People will take note of what the leaders say, but the days are gone when you could stand up and say this is our guy,” said Mr. Jimenez, who previously worked in Washington for the late Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina. “Evangelicals have so many voices now.”

But organizers of the Texas meeting said they expected to see new endorsements and fund-raising efforts for Mr. Santorum before Republicans in South Carolina vote on Saturday, followed by the Florida primary on Jan 31. Their hope is that if evangelicals unite around one candidate, they can head off the nomination of Mr. Romney, whom they regard as too moderate.

At a forum for Republican presidential candidates in Charleston, S.C., which was broadcast Saturday evening on the Fox News Channel, Mr. Romney refuted the suggestion that he had a moderate record as governor of Massachusetts. He told a woman who said she was an undecided voter, “I don’t know whether in a minute I can convince you, but I have a conservative record.”

Mr. Romney did not mention the decision by the evangelical leaders at a campaign stop Saturday afternoon. A spokeswoman declined to comment.

The meeting in Texas began Friday afternoon at the ranch of Paul and Nancy Pressler, who are longtime patrons of conservative causes. James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, Donald E. Wildmon, the founder of the American Family Association, and Mr. Perkins were among the organizers.

After an evening and a morning of what Mr. Perkins called “cordial but passionate” discussions, including presentations by advocates for each of the major candidates except former Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. of Utah, the group held a series of three secret ballots.

The field was narrowed to Mr. Santorum and Mr. Gingrich after the first vote. By the third ballot, Mr. Perkins said, 114 people voted, with Mr. Santorum receiving 85 votes to 29 for Mr. Gingrich.

Mr. Perkins declined to explain why participants moved toward Mr. Santorum, other than to praise his consistent record on social and economic issues. In the discussions, Mr. Perkins said, participants were as concerned about repealing Mr. Obama’s health care law and fighting the national debt as they were about abortion and same-sex marriage.

And many evangelicals have said they are bothered not only by Mr. Gingrich’s three marriages, but by his attacks on Mr. Romney’s work in private equity, which they believe amounts to attacks on free enterprise.

In the interest of unity, Mr. Perkins said, some people who had previously supported Mr. Gingrich, or who were on the fence, switched to Mr. Santorum. But he added that perhaps a quarter of the participants continued to support Mr. Gingrich. Mr. Perkins stressed that participants would happily support Mr. Gingrich or Mr. Perry — if they emerged victorious — but he was less certain about Mr. Romney.

Rick Tyler, a longtime adviser to Mr. Gingrich who now runs a “super PAC” supporting the Gingrich campaign, dismissed the vote. He called it “a straw poll that had questionable methodology.”

“Rick has a very good record on evangelical issues, but has no ability to beat Mitt Romney and less so for Barack Obama,” Mr. Tyler said of Mr. Santorum. “Endorsing Rick only serves to help Romney, who has a terrible record on the issues evangelicals care about.”

The shared goal, many participants said, was to see if it would be possible to unite conservative Christians around a single alternative to Mr. Romney and avoid repeating the experience of 2008, when their disarray helped Senator John McCain, whom they considered a moderate, to take the nomination.

“I think in the end,” Mr. Perkins said, “it was not so much what was wrong with one candidate but rather what was right about the one that people ended up rallying around.”

Erik Eckholm reported from Brenham, Tex., and Jeff Zeleny from Mount Pleasant, S.C. Robbie Brown contributed reporting from Sumter, S.C.


1 Comment »

  1. Reblogged this on A TRUE Republican Speaks .


    Comment by Mr. Craig — January 27, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

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