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February 1, 2011

Pence Out, Hunstman In (Possibly): Whom Do Evangelicals Like?

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Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) announced last week that he will not run in next year's Republican presidential primaries, leaving an opening for other candidates to court social conservatives. Pence may not be a household name, but he is well-regarded among conservative activists.

Pence had the potential to be the Dennis Kucinich of the GOP—a black-horse candidate who could poll well among the ideological base of the party. Pence edged out Mike Huckabee and handily beat Mitt Romney (13 percent) and Sarah Palin (7 percent) in the 2010 Values Voter Summit straw poll.

In a recent Rasmussen poll, likely Republican primary voters gave more support to Romney (24 percent) than to either Huckabee (17 percent) or Palin (19 percent). Among evangelicals, however, Romney came in third. Other polls show likely voters are split between Romney and Huckabee, with each polling around 20 percent of likely voters. About 15 percent say they will support Palin.

In an open memo to “conservative and evangelical leaders,” Mark DeMoss, of the Christian public relations firm The DeMoss Group, said that all of the potential candidates for the Republican nomination pass the traditional litmus tests on abortion and marriage. DeMoss offered a new litmust test: “A candidate for president of the United States should be capable of becoming president, and then competent to be the president.” For DeMoss, the candidate that passes that test is Mitt Romney.

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“Those who would suggest I am placing values on the back burner will be misreading me and wrong. I am only saying that a candidate’s values alone are not enough to get my vote. For example, my pastor shares my values, but I don’t want him to be my president,” wrote DeMoss.
DeMoss's memo highlights the challenges facing Romney. His base is the business sector, not values voters. He can raise millions of dollars, but he does not have the support of the activists on the ground.

Groups such as Focus on the Family have been critical of Romney in the past. In 2008, they lobbied Romney, who sat on the board of Marriott International, to have the hotel chain stop providing adult pay-per-view movies in their hotels.

Last week, Marriott announced it would stop providing adult movie services. Romney did not vote on the Marriott decision, however, because he recently stepped down from the board. Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom told the Washington Post that Romney recused himself from discussions over the adult movie policy.

Some are suspicious of Romney's Mormon faith. A survey in 2008 found that 25 percent of Americans would be upset if a Mormon was elected president. In contrast, 15 percent said they would be upset with a Baptist being president.

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There may be another prominent Mormon to consider in the 2012 presidential race. Jon Huntsman Jr., the U.S. Ambassador to China, resigned in order to consider a presidential campaign.

Huntsman is former Governor of Utah and son of billionaire Jon Huntsman, Sr., who founded the Huntsman Corporation. Huntsman, like Romney, holds traditional views on social issues, but his base would likely be among business leaders.

Comments

Huntsman has no base. He sees a void that he can fill: the "media's" candidate. McCain took that space in 2008. McCain had no base. Few energized Republicans (read: base) wanted McCain. He maintained a high profile and ultimately won the nomination because the left-to-moderate media was pushing him on us. You'll notice that the only place Hunstman is being pushed is by those same media people. They're trying to make him a player and one thing is for sure: the "Mainstream media" will be able to push one or two candidate on us and they've apparently decided that Huntsman is one of them. So, yes, Huntsman will be a factor if he wants to be. But he ain't much of a conservative (ask Utah conservatives). You'll notice also that Obama's people have been hyping him for the last several years. Why? He benefits them, not us. - Romney is my preference right now.

Hey Christian W. You have said it all and said it well. I heartily agree. Especially agree with the Obama pushing Huntsman meme. Also, Romney is my preference.

Being an independent who voted for Obama, Bush and Clinton in the past, the only Republican I would vote for now is Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney. If Sara Palin is chosen, I'm voting for Obama again.

If Obama appointed Huntsman as Ambassador to China,I think I know everything I need to know about Huntsman.

Romney's evolving views on abortion still concern me.

Jim Demint is my long shot favorite at this point.

Whom do evangelicals like? This one likes Obama. Still.

Wake up, CT. Republicans do not own evangelicals. GOP news is not Christian news. In case you forgot, evangelicals *invented* the separation of church and state. Just because the GOP can talk Christianese to a target demographic does not make them the party of Jesus.

I like Romney because he has proven how to get things done. He showed that he could work with other parties in Mass. He took on scandal and corruption with the Salt Lake games and turned that around. He took flagging business and did what is necessary to make them profitable. He didn't just bail them out, but made the necessary changes that you HAVE to make in business. I don't want a president who coddles our country. I want one who will roll up his shirt sleeves and work the hard questions. Not sit on party politics and smile pretty. Voting for Huckabee or Palin is asking for pretty smiles while nothing gets done. I don't understand how anyone trusts those two.