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Monday, March 31, 2008
posted by Justin Hart | 8:41 AM | permalink
Here's the setup.

Lowell Brown, the savvy legal eagle over at the Article VI blog, links to this article by Warren Smith. (Lowell and crew are masters at surveying the current intersection of politics and religion. Its an important post which we will discuss at some later date but Smith's claim is the issue at hand.)

In his WorldMag article, Smith alleges that Paul Weyrich (noted conservative Christian leader who endorsed Romney last November) now openly regrets his endorsement. Quoting Weyrich: "Friends, before all of you and before almighty God, I want to say I was wrong." Smith continues:
In a quiet, brief, but passionate speech, Weyrich essentially confessed that he and the other leaders should have backed Huckabee, a candidate who shared their values more fully than any other candidate in a generation. He agreed with Farris that many conservative leaders had blown it. By chasing other candidates with greater visibility, they failed to see what many of their supporters in the trenches saw clearly: Huckabee was their guy.
Lowell thinks Smith is spinning. I'm not convinced. Its difficult for me to claim spin with that direct quote from Weyrich. Still, context is everything.

My sources tell my that Weyrich (like many conservatives) was not a little miffed about Mitt's endorsement of McCain. I understand his sentiment but disagree with his reasoning.

The gist of the meeting, which Smith says took place in early March, lambastes leaders for not getting behind Huck. Its hard to justify this thinking. I could use the same logic in my corner to berate Iowan Evangelicals for not getting behind Mitt (which is the demographic move that started the whole McCain ball rolling after all).

From my perspective Mitt's McCain move was calculated but completely logical. McCain has always been the snubbed candidate from most sides of the conservative playground. But today, he's the only guy left to be picked for the kickball game. With the anti-Bush electorate so vocal, McCain may just be the best guy. This is what Mitt sees and what I hope our readers will see as well.

To wit: conservatives who oppose McCain for political reasons are essentially "kicking against the pricks" - a rough venture when the alternatives are President Clinton or Obama.

Still, Weyrich is expressing a certain bewilderment and understandable angst which many conservative Christians are feeling about McCain. Another source who is deeply connected in Evangelical circles expressed his dismay that McCain isn't reaching out to them.

A third source confirmed this feeling but indicated that its mostly par for the course. "McCain is coming to these conservative events but mostly just to check the box that says he was there. He holds no private meetings, no meet and greets and never lingers to mix with the crowd."

I hope he's wrong. Its going to take more than the facade of placation to placate these masses.

Still, context is everything. While Weyrich in early March was miffed at Mitt I'm told he's also a bit perturbed about Huck's defense of Reverend Wright. What goes around comes around.

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Sorry, but I still hate the Huckster. I am more then likely going to swallow the jagged little McCain pill, but Huck? I bet they are bucking to get Huck as the Veep choice. That would enrage my political sense more than any other combination. And should the Huckster run again in 2012, and all these evangelical leaders endorse him, well then they can all go to heck in a handbasket. I will die before I vote for Huck!

The Huckster effect will be alive and well (and possibly even stronger) in 2012 and 2016. Those evangelical leaders who bravely supported Mitt this time may jump on the the Huckster's bandwagon early next time seeing him as a viable candidate the second time around. There are no guarantees that the vote won't be split even further next time. Given that, it makes it even more important to get Mitt on the ticket as the VP now and to go on to win the WH this time thereby forever putting an end to the Huckster effect (we hope).

Irony, thy name is evangelical Politics...

It is funny that these people are miffed by Mitt's endorsement of McCain when his chance of winning became bleak and almost impossible. It is their voting for Huck in Iowa that directly led to McCain knocking Mitt off of his momentum, which would have given him the endorsement. We all told them this a long time ago, a vote for Huck is a vote for McCain. So they give McCain the nomination and then whine because Romney graciously endorses him? Then they complain that he (McCain) is not giving them enough attention? They made themselves irrelevent by their blind support of Huck because of his religious identity, when in reality, instead of regreting backing Mitt when you could have joind the identity politics bandwagon, He should be regretting not encouraging his fellow evangelical leaders to back Mitt as well. This would have given the nomination to a real conservative. And if Huck is the one who lines up most closely with their values, then I don't like their values! Of course they are not referring to the full spectrum of their values, just a narrow slice of religious values. If those are the most important to them in choosing a president, then further into political irrelevancy they can expect to go.

I see the anger about McCain but many Evangelical leaders sat on their hands and didn't get behind Mitt like Weyrich did. His problem is he should've been more active in his an endorsement and then doing nothing about it is still nothing.

To say also that you should've backed Huck...hindsight is always 20/20. It takes a really leader to not only endorse but to back your guy to the hilt amongst your people at the time that you decided to do it...

It looks like Weyrich is trying to mend fences with the people who are miffed that he didn't back Gomer - that's all...

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 31, 2008 at 2:56 PM  

I don't get the reasoning here at all. We couldn't win in Nov. with the evangelical vote alone and that's all the Huckster got for the most part.Wyrich's star has been fading for quite a while anyway.

We need Mitt as VP now more than ever at this moment in time.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at April 2, 2008 at 12:44 PM  

Only two big things changed:

1. Mitt Romney accepted the results of the Republican primary, dropping out and endorsing the person who had won under the rules that governed the Republican presidential primaries.

2. Mike Huckabee complained that he didnot get conservative endorsements (never mind the fact that he made several campaign statements and had a track record as governor of Arkansas that were to the left of mainstream GOP positions, this included his comments about the Bush Administration's "bunker mentality" and waging class warfare during the campaign. And let's not discuss Huckabee's election-year flip-flop on immigration...).

If Weyrich's flip-flop is due to number one, then he is clearly placing the needs of conservatism over the country, and as such, I now have to question the man's patriotism.

If it is over reason number 2, then Weyrich is little better than a weathervane, blowing whichever way the wind is, and he will turn on a politician at the drop of the hat when he feels he might gain an advantage or if the heat from his supporters is too much - that he is incapable of taking a stand that might be unpopular with his supporters. This makes him demonstrably unreliable, and Mitt Romney should not trust Weyrich any further than he can throw a Nimitz-class carrier.

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