Alan Keyes is Running for the GOP Nomination; Will Bolt if a "pro-abort" Wins
Perennial GOP presidential candidate Alan Keyes has announced
that he is running again -- and will appear next week at the Values Voters Summit that the GOP front-runners have declined to attend
. Keyes, who has a long history of bringing religious rightists to their feet with cheers, applause and shouted amens, will add more than racial color to the all white GOP primary line-up. While Keyes never captures the votes that one might expect given the emotional responses he elicits, he brings fire to the field at a time when there is considerable speculation as to whether the once mighty values voters are losing interest in the GOP.
But for all of his considerable ability to fire-up the religious right wing of the GOP, he has openly flirted with the theocratic Constitution Party for more than a decade -- and in a speech to the Constitution Party's National Committee last year, he promised to bolt the Republican Party if it nominates "some pro-abort at any place on the ticket" and if he does, to try to take as many as he can with him.
In a statement posted at Keyes' Renew America web site:
Keyes told Janet Parshall, host of a nationally syndicated radio show, that he's "unmoved" by the lack of moral courage shown by the other candidates, among whom he sees no standout who articulates the "key kernel of truth that must, with courage, be presented to our people."
He added, "The one thing I've always been called to do is to raise the standard... of our allegiance to God and His authority that has been the foundation stone of our nation's life"--and he decried the lack of "forthright, clear, and clarion declaration" from the other candidates concerning this issue.
As a result, Keyes said, "We're putting together an effort that's not going to be like anything before, because it's going to be entirely based on citizen action. We're going to be challenging people to take a pledge for America's revival," and elevate them from spectators in the political arena to participants.
The former Reagan diplomat ran previously for president in 1996 and 2000. During the 1996 race, he was widely credited with forcing abortion to the center of public policy debate. In 2000, he was acknowledged by commentators at Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN as the winner of the Republican presidential primary debates. In that election, he continued his prior focus on America's moral crisis, and also made abolishing the income tax a serious question for policy-makers.
As the above statement indicates, Keyes will probably draw the Christian nationalist narrative strongly into the GOP discussion. To the extent that the second, and arguably third teir candidates are given national stages in which to propound their views, Keyes will be present to articulate the religious right's views on everyhting from abortion to marriage equality to stem cell research more forcefully than any of the GOP candidates have to date. Not incidentally, Keyes is also Catholic
The campaign's web site is: We Need Alan Keyes for President.
Interestingly, in the list of speeches posted on the campaign web site, Keyes' last speech to a political group was to the national commitee of the Constitution Party in December. I wrote about this at the time, noting that Keyes clearly thought that the Constitution Party was in a position to benefit from conservative dissatisfaction with the Bush administration and the GOP in Congress.
Keyes spent much of his speech blasting the constitutional doctrine of separation of church and state, and echoing the claim of the religious right, (echoed by Jim Wallis in his book God's Politics) that people of faith are being driven from the public square. I wrote:
To Keyes, the constitutional doctrine of separation of church and state gets in the way of his view that particular notions of "the authority of God" should prevail, and without them all is lost. This is a presumption underlying much of domininionism and its most visible expression, Christian nationalism. It includes a notion of "higher law," that would require judges to overrule the nation's laws in light of their religious views, or governors of states to defy judicial decisions that in their view are inconsistent with their understandings of either higher law, or the state constitution. In this regard, he denounces both former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for his role in the Terri Schiavo case; and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for failing to defy the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court over its ruling on marriage equality.
Keyes concluded his speech by strongly suggesting that GOP front-runners Sen. John McCain, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Romney were all unacceptable to Christian conservatives -- and that the nomination of any of them would be a "betrayal:"
Because I know for sure that if they nominate some pro-abort at any place on the ticket, I will leave the Republican Party. I have said this before, and I will do it. But I think that it's really important that neither I nor others leave the party alone. We must take with us all those we can rouse so that a new possibility is created for America.
But that means, y'all, that this moment of crisis for the country, crisis for the Republican Party is a moment of opportunity and challenge for you. For, in many respects, in your principles, in your platform, in your courage--in the courage that you have shown as individuals, you represent the very thing America needs most. Are you ready for this challenge? That's the question, and it's not an easy one to answer.
(See the sixth paragraph from the end of the speech before the Q&A)
According to the official summary of his speech posted at Keyes' organization Renew America at the time:
On Dec. 2, Alan Keyes spoke at a conference of the Constitution Party in Concord, New Hampshire.
In his address, Dr. Keyes discussed the impending demise of the Republican Party and the need for the Constitution Party to be "ready" to create a "new possiblity . . . for America."
The Constitution Party, by virue of its membership, is the third largest party in the U.S. (Yes, larger than the Libertarians and the Greens.) They have, however, never snagged a candidate of sufficient notoriety to play much of a role in the presidential campaigns. But if, as remote as it may seem at this point, Keyes leads a religious right splinter in the GOP, it could be different next year.