Paul Weyrich on the GOP Field
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Jan 01, 2007 at 03:05:33 AM EST
When longtime religious right strategiest Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation speaks, movement observers listen. At least I do.  (The punditocracy does not, which is one reason why they are wrong about what is going on with the religious right so much of the time.)

Most recently, in an interview with Agape Press -- that's the news service of Don Wildmon's Tupelo, Mississippi-based American Family Association -- Weyrich offered his early thinking the GOP presidential field from the perspective of conservatives -- and none of them are named Guiliani or McCain.

According to the article, Weyrich sees three candidates who will pick up conservative movement support:

Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Weyrich, who has been involved in politics for decades, says twice Governor Huckabee had him "on the seat of his chair" during a recent forum. According to Weyrich, the former Baptist preacher "can speak like no other candidate."

"He is dynamic, he is exciting, he believes in all the right things," says Weyrich in describing the Arkansas governor. "I think that if conservatives really got behind him, that they would bump him up to be a first-tier candidate."

As for Newt Gingrich, Weyrich says the former Speaker is "always good out of office, but as soon as he gets in office, he isn't good anymore."

And when it comes to Romney, Weyrich offers a cautionary note, saying conservatives need to be wary, given the governor's flip-flopping on front-burner issues like abortion and homosexual "marriage."

"Governor Romney is going to make an attempt to sound like us," say Weyrich. "[But] I don't think he is; I don't think he's the genuine article. And I think he really ought to be closely examined, especially for the flip-flops he now claims he's done on abortion, on same-sex marriage, on any number of issues -- including hate crimes, by the way."

Weyrich likes Sam Brownback (R-KS) but doesn't think he'll make it:

describing him as a "wonderful" candidate for social conservatives, but one who lacks "fire in the belly" and is not likely to go very far.

If the religious right rallies around Gov. Huckabee the former Baptist preacher whose religious right credentials seem more in order than the former Mormon bishop from Massachussetts who has courted the religious right for months, this will put Romney in a tight spot.

Parenthetically, it will be interesting to see what Ralph Reed, the former head of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition does this year. He has been laying low since losing the GOP primary for Lt. Governor of Georgia last year as the Abramoff scandal closed in on him. In one of the strangest political alliances in recent memory, Rudy Guiliani twice went to Georgia to headline fundraisers for the embattled former golden boy of Georgia GOP politics. Guiliani, as the twice-divorced, pro-choice, pro-gay rights,pro-gun control mayor of New York, was a spectacularly strange ally for the virulently antichoice, antigay, "family values" candidate. Indeed, some at the time described Guiliani as "a blatant adutering cousin fucker." It is an episode that Guiliani would probably rather forget, but his opponents are likely to remind voters of at every opportunity. Guiliani had built his career as a corruption fighting federal prosecutor. And here he was, campaigning for a man near the center of one of the biggest Washington corruption scandals in American history -- a scandal that was partly unearthed by his prospective presidential rival Sen. John McCain who had chaired investigative hearings on the bilking of Indian tribes by Jack Abramoff and Reed. It was a very strange episode that told GOP primary voters some things they may not have known about the character of both Guiliani and Reed.

is now well underway.  The religious right is regrouping and he presidential field is slowly taking shape.

by Frederick Clarkson on Mon Jan 01, 2007 at 02:13:37 PM EST

has actually been a very good governor. He certainly doesn't hide his faith, but he doesn't seem to be a good candidate for the neocon dream team, either.

Huckabee epitomizes the "compassionate conservatism" that Bush loves to talk about. He has done a lot of things for the "little guy", and was one of the first to offer help for Katrina victims. He has done a lot with health initiatives, and has walked the talk in his own life. He supported raising the minimum wage here in Arkansas, and has worked hard on education reform.

I know he has done some pretty questionable things in the area of taking gifts, and he has been involved with some folks that are pretty radical at times, but I'm not sure he is on the dominionist track. He seems to be pretty independent minded. I don't think he is as scary as Brownback, that's for sure, and the Repubs could certainly do worse!

This is going to be interesting, watching the developments. Will also be interesting to see just what surfaces in the way of the skeletons in Huckabee's closet. I'm sure there are some, and if Weyrich supports him, he bears scrutiny.

Personally, I'd love to see Kucinich in the oval office, but I know it will never happen. I just hope the Dems come up with someone with a personality this time. Most Americans vote for the personality, I think.

by phatkhat on Mon Jan 01, 2007 at 11:16:34 PM EST
he is almost certainly on the dominionist track of some kind. Seems like Huckabee merits some closer scrutiny.

by Frederick Clarkson on Mon Jan 01, 2007 at 11:42:33 PM EST
The gov. is not going to moderate his stance on abortion or gay rights.

Gene Lyons is the premier source for Arkansas political news. Some of his stuff is behind a pay wall but some is widely available.  Here's one from several years ago:

by NancyP on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 05:53:06 PM EST

that after the 2006 bashing, especially of Rick Santorum, the religious right would be a smidgin more stealthy.

There will come a time when the nation landslides against the candidate of the religious right. I dont think it is too far off. The first wound may come if moderate Republicans begin fighting for their party and nominate someone like Guliani, who actually does represent some traditional Republican values of less government. To say the present GOP doesnt want to meddle with your life is to say the church doesnt want to either. And how about that national debt and the many deficits?

I get sick of choosing between a righty and a lefty. The primary system is a total failure, rarely nominating people who represent middle America.  Americans get to choose what the activists settle on.

That is absolutely pathetic, ridiculous and ignorant.

Americans need to wake up and get this cancer treated.

by James Veverka on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 07:00:52 PM EST

Benjamin Franklin emerged, and the Philadelphia locals asked what happened. He said you've got a republic, if you can keep it.

Franklin had an important point.

It is the obligation of all citizens to participate in the democratic process. That the religous right as a well organized, ideologically driven faction is able to weild power far disproportionate to their numbers is no surprise.

The problem is not the party primary system; it is that most of us have abandoned the playing field to those who are using the tools of electoral politics to end constitutional democracy as we know it.  

by Frederick Clarkson on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 07:55:53 PM EST

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