Romney Romances Religious Right
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 01:31:27 PM EST
Several years ago, when Mitt Romney was merely a multi-millionaire Massachusetts politician, he couldn't locate the conservative Christian evangelical movement with a GPS or MapQuest. Over the past few years however, Romney and his team have been holding a series of meet-ups - whose pace has been recently accelerated - with conservative Christian leaders to assure them of Romney's fealty to their issues.

When Romney heads off to Israel later this summer, he hopes to accomplish at least three objectives: renew his longtime friendship with Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu; convince Jewish donors and voters that he is more Israel-friendly than President Barack Obama; and, send a message to conservative Christian evangelicals that he can be trusted.

Romney seeking Christian Right cred

From the beginning of the primary season, Romney has been looking for credibility with evangelicals who, before he sealed the nomination, had leaned toward Herman Cain, Michelle Bachman, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum. At one point, even Newt Gingrich seemed like a reasonable alternative to Romney.

Now, while it's clear that conservative Christian evangelicals are poised to vote overwhelmingly for Romney - albeit less than enthusiastically - a little Israel doting and some face-to-face meet ups can't hurt.

David Brody, the well-connected chief political correspondent for Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), and the author of The Teavangelicals: The Inside Story of How the Evangelicals and the Tea Party are Taking Back America, recently reported that Team Romney "has begun a serious push to engage evangelical leaders behind the scenes including weekly meetings, personal phone calls from Romney, discussions about appearing at more faith-based events and serious dialogue about convening a gathering this fall with national evangelical leaders."

According to Brody, Romney has spoken with "popular evangelist" Pastor Rick Warren, and has been trying to set up a meeting with Dr. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family and a still-influential figure on the religious right.

Interestingly enough, on a national radio show in October 2006, Dobson said that he didn't, "believe that conservative Christians in large numbers will vote for a Mormon, but that remains to be seen, I guess." At this point, the remains to be seen part is no longer much of a guess.

"Peter Flaherty, a senior advisor for the Romney campaign has been the main liaison when it comes to outreach within the conservative Christian community," Brody reported.

Brody pointed out that Romney, "has spoken and met with numerous influential conservative Christian leaders including regular meetings," with Jim Daly, Tim Goeglin and Tom Minnery from Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, the Abramoff scandal-tainted Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Dr. Richard Land with The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Reverend Sammy Rodriguez with the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Gary Bauer with American Values, Bob Reccord with the super secretive Council for National Policy, and Mark Rodgers, a former senior advisor to Rick Santorum.

Goeglein, who was forced to resign as the Bush Administration's liaison to social and religious conservatives over a plagiarism and copyright violation scandal, told Brody that "The Romney team has done a fine job of reaching out and keeping us in the loop. Our relationships have steadily built over the course of the last year and a half. They have been pro-active about picking strategic times in which to share information and that will be particularly helpful over the course of the next few months."

Of all the leaders Team Romney has engaged, Samuel Rodriguez takes a back seat to none, although whether Rodriguez actually represents any voters is open to question. "I stand convinced the Governor appreciates the significance of the Hispanic electorate and he refuses to give up the Hispanic vote without a fight. He has made a 180-degree turn and is headed to a significant Hispanic outreach," Rodriguez told Brody.

It is unclear what kind of "outreach" Rodriguez is referring to given Romney's refusal to back the "Dream Act," and his predilection for pushing for the "self-deportation" of immigrants. In addition, a key Romney advisor on immigration issues is Kris Kobach, co-author of the Arizona's SB1070 law that was largely struck down by the Supreme Court, and who is considered "the intellectual architect of the draconian state-by-state approach immigration reform," as Tim Dickinson recently pointed out in Rolling Stone.

According to Brody, Team Romney's "focus now is on getting the conservative evangelical base motivated." The aim of a recent meeting of 70 conservative Christian leaders was "to figure out ways to get the conservative Christian base mobilized and excited about the GOP presidential nominee."

Brody also notes that if Romney's credibility will be enormously enhanced if he picks a vice presidential running mate acceptable to conservative evangelical Christians: "Acceptable nominees could be Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee, Bob McDonnell, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, and Marco Rubio."

you challenging Rodriguez's statement claiming for Romney a "180 turn" when there has been no substantive policy change at all. It is another example of Rodriguez's loose rhetoric and cow-towing to the Right.

by gregmetzger on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 07:48:11 PM EST

but your good work here prompted this from me: litics-of.html


by gregmetzger on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 08:34:54 PM EST

The Romney team has done a fine job of reaching out and keeping us in the loop. Our relationships have steadily built over the course of the last year and a half.hole in one prizes

by mike12 on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 01:26:44 PM EST

Christians in large numbers will vote for a Mormon, but that remains to be seen, I guess." At this point, the remains to be seen part is no longer much of a guess.electronic bidets

by nilky698 on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 03:58:11 AM EST

Dr. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family and a still-influential figure on the religious

by nilky698 on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 03:58:44 AM EST

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by nilky698 on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 01:01:42 PM EST

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