All posts from “Politicians”

May 4, 2012

Why Mitt Romney’s Upcoming Liberty Commencement Address Fits the University’s Past Speakers

Romney will continue a long line of speakers who find common ground with Liberty on political issues.

Mitt Romney will speak at next week’s commencement at Liberty University, an addresss that follows the university’s history of politically conservative speakers. For Romney, the speech is an outreach to conservative Christians who have been wary of him, both for his political positions and his Mormon faith. For Liberty, Romney will continue a long line of speakers who find common ground with Liberty on conservative politics, not religious affiliation.

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The Liberty speech is one of many events Romney has planned that will allow him to shore up support with conservatives while beginning to sound themes for the general election. Two weeks ago, Romney spoke at the National Rifle Association meeting. While Romney tipped his hat to second amendment rights activists, he spent most of the speech on taxes and the economy.

Romney is likely to follow a similar strategy at Liberty, one that commencement speakers John McCain (2006) and George Bush (1990) used to avoid hot button social issues to focus on foreign policy and other issues.

Continue reading Why Mitt Romney’s Upcoming Liberty Commencement Address Fits the University’s Past Speakers...

February 21, 2012

Franklin Graham, Rick Santorum Bring Up Obama's Faith

Graham: 'He has said he’s a Christian, so I just have to assume that he is.'

Franklin Graham has again stirred some backlash over comments about President Obama's faith.

Asked about whether Obama had “accepted Jesus Christ,” Graham said, “I don’t know.”

“You have to ask him. I cannot answer that question for anybody. All I know is I’m a sinner, and God has forgiven me of my sins," said Graham, who is the son of Billy Graham and the CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. "You have to ask every person. He has said he’s a Christian, so I just have to assume that he is.”

When asked if he believes former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is a Christian, Graham said, "I think so" on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "His values are so clear on moral issues. No question about it... I think he's a man of faith." On former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, “Most Christians would not recognize Mormons as part of the Christian faith,” Graham said. Separate from questions about his faith, Graham said, “He would be a good president… He’s a sharp guy.” On former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, he said, "I think Newt is a Christian. At least he told me he is."

Graham spoke with CT last year about his views of Obama's faith. In 2010, he suggested Obama was born a Muslim because of his father's faith.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said that President Obama has not brought up the questions about his faith.

"I did meet with the president this morning and amazingly he didn't bring this up," Carney said. "He firmly believes that getting an extra $40 in every paycheck is of vastly greater significance to most Americans than someone's opinion expressed on cable television about his personal faith, which again, he has spoken about as explicitly as a few weeks ago," Carney said, referring to Obama's remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast.

Santorum said earlier that Obama is guided by "some phony ideal, some phony theology." His choice of words echoed Eric Metaxas's address at the National Prayer Breakfast who decried general "phony religiosity." Santorum said later that he was talking about Obama's connection to environmentalism.

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February 8, 2012

Rick Santorum Gets New Life with Social Conservative Boost

The candidate has received mixed support from evangelical voters in previous primaries.

Rick Santorum surprised many by winning all three Republican contests yesterday in Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota, suggesting that none of the Republican candidates have found a way to win consistently across the wide range of caucuses and primaries.

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Santorum showed once again that he can win in states where he can talk face-to-face with social conservatives. He barnstormed through the states, personally meeting with many conservative activists. The strategy worked. Santorum's margin of victory was unexpectedly wide.

The former senator from Pennsylvania won nearly twice the number of the votes in Missouri that Romney received (55 vs. 25 percent). In Minnesota, he received nearly three times the votes as Romney (45 vs. 17 percent). Romney performed better in Colorado than he did in other states, but Santorum still edged him out 40 to 35 percent.

"I don't stand here and claim to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney," Santorum said. "I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama."

A key to Santorum's victory was an excited, social conservative base willing to go to polls and caucuses, observers suggested. Santorum's evangelical base has proven to be more important in Midwestern states where social conservatives can mobilize voters to attend caucuses.

Continue reading Rick Santorum Gets New Life with Social Conservative Boost...

January 21, 2012

Gingrich Wins South Carolina, Finding Support Among Evangelicals

Romney received as many evangelical votes as Santorum, the candidate backed by many social conservatives.

Newt Gingrich won the Republican presidential primary in South Carolina with the strong support of evangelicals. According to exit polls, two-thirds of voters described themselves as evangelical or born-again Christians, 44 percent of which voted Gingrich. Their support turned the first Southern primary from a close race to a runaway victory for Gingrich.

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Gingrich found support from evangelicals despite efforts by evangelical leaders in the social conservative movement to rally behind Rick Santorum. Fearing that social conservatives might split their voting power, a group of 150 met last weekend in an attempt to coalesce behind a single candidate. Evangelicals in South Carolina did come together—just for a different candidate. In fact, only 21 percent of evangelicals backed Santorum, the same percentage that voted for Mitt Romney.

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, who served as spokesman for the Texas gathering, said on MSNBC tonight that he did not expect those in the group to switch to Gingrich. While Perkins said there was a willingness to forgive Gingrich's less-than-perfect personal life, Gingrich's character was still an issue. “There is concern over whether or not he would be that consistent and stable leader,” Perkins said.

Gingrich won, in part, because he was able to win over both religious conservatives and those for whom religion is less important in the voting booth. Voters who said the religious beliefs of candidates mattered “a great deal” backed both Gingrich (45 percent) and Santorum (32 percent).

Among those for whom religion is only matters “somewhat,” Gingrich’s support remained high but Santorum's dropped to only 15 percent. Gingrich also did well among those who said religion mattered little or not all. He received around a third of these less religiously minded voters, nearly equaling Romney's share (39 percent).

Gingrich did well throughout the state. To win, he needed Romney to do poorly in along the coast and in the more populous counties in the state. He won counties with some of the major metropolitan areas like Columbia and Charleston by narrow margins. In the more conservative highlands, Gingrich was able to easily make up the difference and seal the victory.

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January 21, 2012

Spotlight Turns to Gingrich's Marital Past Before South Carolina Primary

Historically, South Carolina is the make or break contest for the Republican Party. Since 1980, the winner of the state’s primary has become the GOP nominee. With such high stakes, candidates went all in by spending heavily on ads and letting loose any and all attacks they can use on their opponents. The result has been surprise after surprise after surprise in the final days of the contest.

Thursday morning, Rick Perry dropped out of the race, shocking seasoned political observers by endorsing Newt Gingrich. Perry was not predicted to do well in South Carolina, but he was expected to stay in the race until the results came in Saturday.

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Perry's announcement came after last weekend’s gathering of 150 evangelical leaders who met to decide on a single candidate to back in the GOP contest, choosing to back Santorum. On Thursday, James Dobson, who was a key figure in the meeting, formally endorsed Santorum. In a statement, Dobson said that his key concern was state of families and marriage.

"Of all the Republican candidates who are vying for the presidency, former Sen. Santorum is the one who has spoken passionately in every debate about this concern. He has pleaded with the nation and its leaders to come to the aid of marriages, parents, and their children. What a refreshing message,” Dobson said. "While there are other GOP candidates who are worthy of our support, Sen. Santorum is the man of the hour.”

Dobson, who endorsed as a private individual, founded Focus on the Family but now leads his new ministry Family Talk.

According to those at the social conservative confab last weekend, one of the reasons for Dobson favoring Santorum over Gingrich was the marital history of the candidates.

On Thursday, Gingrich's past was once again a news topic because ABC aired an interview with Gingrich's second wife, Marianne Gingrich. During the interview, she said that Newt asked her for an “open marriage” when he was confronted about his affair with his now-wife Callista Gingrich. Gingrich quickly denied the charge but declined to elaborate on personal matters. In the past, he has spoken in general terms about his extramarital affairs and three marriages and about how he has sought God's forgiveness.

Continue reading Spotlight Turns to Gingrich's Marital Past Before South Carolina Primary...

November 30, 2011

For Herman Cain, Alleged Affair Could Prove More Damaging than Harassment Claims

Cain campaign says questions about ‘private sexual life’ are out of bounds.

GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain is “reassessing” his candidacy in light of an allegation that he had a 13-year-long extramarital affair. Many social conservatives are reassessing their support for the Cain campaign since Atlanta businesswoman Ginger White told a Fox News affiliate that she was involved in a “very inappropriate situation, relationship” with Cain.

Cain campaign suggested that such an extramarital affair would be private and not a legitimate topic for public scrutiny. The allegation of an extended affair comes on the heels of claims of sexual harassment during Cain's time as president of the National Restaurant Association. Cain has denied both the affair with White and the harassment charges.

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When Cain faced harassment charges, many conservatives came to the candidate's defense. The charges were simply that—allegations. Cain was considered innocent until proven guilty. Newt Gingrich, one of Cain's rivals for the Republican nomination, told NBC on November 11, “Up to now [Cain] seems to have satisfied most people that the [harassment] allegations aren't proven, and that having people who hold press conferences isn't the same as a conviction. So I think people are giving him the benefit of the doubt.”

According to a poll of likely Iowa Republican voters, born-again Christians and cable news watchers became more supportive of Cain after the harassment allegations.

A poll began a week before the November 7 press conference by women claiming harassment allegations against Cain and ran for another week after. While the average voter grew slightly less supportive of Cain after the press conference, those who watched cable news saw Cain as more intelligent, more trustworthy, and a stronger leader after the allegations than they did before the press conference.

“The effect of the scandal on perceptions of Cain depends on where people are getting their information,” said Dave Peterson, interim director of the Harkin Institute of Public Policy. "Those who tune in to the major networks react as one might expect: they view him more negatively. Cable news watchers, in contrast, report more positive assessments, suggesting that they are rallying behind Cain.”

Among likely Republican caucus goers, there was a drop in the support for Cain among Catholics and Mainline Protestants (those who did not say they are “born again”). Among evangelical, born-again voters, however, there was an increase in support for Cain after the harassment claims, according to data Peterson provided to Christianity Today.

Continue reading For Herman Cain, Alleged Affair Could Prove More Damaging than Harassment Claims...

November 22, 2011

Poll: Romney's Mormon Faith Not a General Election Issue for Republican Evangelicals

Republican evangelicals are less likely than other religious voters to support Mitt Romney in the primary elections, but they are more likely vote for him over President Obama in the general election, a new poll suggests.

Among Republican voters, just 8 percent say Romney’s religion makes them less likely to vote for him and 44 percent say it would not make a difference. Among white evangelical Republican voters, however, 15 percent say Romney’s religion would make them less likely to support him.

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Still, voters could find themselves voting for Romney if he wins the GOP nomination, according to the poll released Wednesday from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. About 90 percent of white evangelical Republican voters say they would back Romney over Obama in a general election matchup.

In the general election, those who say they attend religious services at least once
a week were more likely to vote for Romney over Obama (55% to 41%). "Overall, white evangelicals would be among the strongest Romney supporters if he is the GOP nominee challenging Obama next fall," the survey suggests.

White evangelical Protestant voters appear to have mixed opinions about Romney; 46 percent of them expressed favorable views compared to 40 percent of those who suggested unfavorable views. Romney would likely find weakest support among white evangelical Republicans who agree with the Tea Party where just 11 percent of these voters support Romney for the GOP nomination compared to 39 percent who said they would back Herman Cain.

In the poll, conducted November 9-14, Cain led Romney (17% to (26%) among white evangelical Republican and Republican-leaning voters. Romney was running nearly neck-and-neck with Cain among white Catholic Republican voters (26% and 23%). Cain's standing in the polls has dropped since some women accused him of sexually harassing them. Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich's numbers have been up recently, and 19 percent of evangelical voters suggested they support the former House speaker.

Continue reading Poll: Romney's Mormon Faith Not a General Election Issue for Republican Evangelicals...

October 13, 2011

Rick Perry's Wife Says Husband Is Being Attacked for Faith

Texas Governor Rick Perry's wife Anita Perry suggested today that her husband is being attacked for his faith during a "rough month."

"We have been brutalized and beaten up and chewed up in the press to where I need this today," Anita Perry said at North Greenville University in South Carolina. "We are being brutalized by our opponents, and our own party. So much of that is, I think they look at him, because of his faith. He is the only true conservative–well, there are some true conservatives. And they’re there for good reasons. And they may feel like God called them too. But I truly feel like we are here for that purpose."

Anita Perry suggested that her husband's difficulties were a "test." "Last week, someone came up to Rick and gave him the Scripture. He said Rick, I want to tell you God is testing you," she said.

She said Perry relied on prayer when deciding whether or not to enter the GOP race. "He felt like he needed to see that burning bush," she said. "I said he may not see that burning bush but other people are seeing it for you."

Anita Perry also spoke about her trips to church with her grandfather. "My grandfather was the deacon in a Christian church and he made sure I went to Sunday school every Sunday because nothing made him prouder than for me to hear him in his sermon on Sunday," she said.

Texas pastor Robert Jeffress endorsed Perry last week at the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit in Washington last week. After introducing Perry, he later told reporters he believed Mormonism was a cult, which many reporters saw as the main story out of the summit. Jeffress discussed his views that Christians should not vote for a Mormon candidate during the 2008 election.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who is Mormon, suggested that Perry should disavow Jeffress, but Perry declined, the Associated Press reported. The video of Anita Perry's speech is available below from MSNBC:

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October 5, 2011

As Economic Concerns Remain High, Mitt Romney, Others Tackle Abortion

Life ethics issues like abortion have not defined campaign debates so far, with economic issues taking the lead and hot-button topics like Social Security and immigration also taking center stage. In an interview with Mike Huckabee on Fox News, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tackled abortion over the weekend, calling himself “pro-life” and later earning praise from Pat Robertson.

“[It would] be wonderful if everyone in the country agreed with you and me that life begins in conception and that there’s a sanctity of life that’s part of a civilized society and that we’re all going to agree there should not be legal abortion in the nation,” Romney said. “But I don’t think that’s where we are right now. But I do think where the majority of the American people would go is say let the states make the decisions.”

Romney's position on abortion as governor of Massachusetts took a similar stance toward state's rights. As governor, he protected his state's pro-choice laws, pledging he would not impose his views on the majority. However, he also said during his time in office his personal views “evolved and deepened” to become more conservative.

Over the weekend, Romney said he would “absolutely” have supported a a constitutional amendment to establish the definition of the beginning of life as conception, but that it would not have made it past the 85 percent Democratic state legislature.

Romney stopped short of saying he would support such an amendment as president.

“I’d make sure the progress that’s been made to provide for life and to protect human life would not be progress that is reversed,” he said.

He said as president he would specifically appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would “have a conviction to follow the law and not create the law from the bench,” with an eye to reversing Roe v. Wade and returning decisions about the legality of abortion back to the individual states.

The forum appeared to signal a deliberate shift toward addressing socially conservative voters on Romney's part. Agreeing to an interview with Huckabee was an interesting choice for Romney, since his Mormon faith was one point of controversy between the two rivals in 2008.

Continue reading As Economic Concerns Remain High, Mitt Romney, Others Tackle Abortion ...

September 22, 2011

Some Evangelicals Line Up Behind Rick Perry

From media mavens to grassroots activists, conservative Christian leaders are heaping praise on presidential candidate Rick Perry, an early but important show of support from a vital GOP constituency.

Initially unimpressed with the 2012 presidential field, some of these evangelicals now herald Perry's late entry as the second coming of Ronald Reagan.

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Like Reagan, they say, Perry is a big-state governor, a staunch conservative and, significantly, a fellow Christian.

Perry, in turn, has suffused his campaign with religion, building on strategies honed for years in Texas politics.

He has huddled with social conservatives at a Texas retreat, hosted a high-profile Christian prayer rally in Houston and recited his prodigal-son spiritual testimony at the late Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.

On Tuesday (Sept. 20), Perry said his Christian faith includes a "clear directive" to support Israel, a view shared by many evangelicals, who believe God gave the land to the Jewish people.

Early returns suggest the Texas governor's efforts are paying off, particularly among elder evangelical statesmen:

-- Donald E. Wildmon, founder and former head of the American Family Association, is endorsing Perry. The Mississippi-based AFA organized and spent $600,000 to finance Perry's prayer rally, called "The Response," and later directed its 30,000 participants to a new Christian
voter-registration campaign.

"I think the overwhelming majority of what's often called the `religious right' will support the governor," said Wildmon, whose organization boasts a mailing list of 60,000 pastors and operates 180 radio stations. "I'm going to do whatever I can to help the man get
elected."

-- Former Focus on the Family head James Dobson has gushed over Perry on his new radio show, calling him a "deeply committed Christian" and a courageous leader. Dobson was a co-organizer of The Response and will reportedly appear with Perry at an event in Orlando next month.

-- Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. has mused that Perry could be another Reagan and called him "one of the most pro-life governors in American history." Falwell also said he admires the governor's "guts" for suggesting that Texas could secede from the union.

Continue reading Some Evangelicals Line Up Behind Rick Perry ...

September 2, 2011

Rick Perry Talks Politics, Faith at Private Retreat

Evangelical political activists attended a two-day retreat with Texas Governor Rick Perry last weekend, the L.A. Times reports.

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The GOP presidential candidate met with social conservative leaders who grilled Perry on his faith and his politics at a remote ranch west of Austin, Texas. According to the L.A. Times sources, Perry convinced his guests that he was one of them.

The retreat, named “Call to Action,” featured representatives from prominent evangelical and socially conservative political organizations. Participants included Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission president Richard Land, and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.

Participants were asked not to take pictures, record the event, or disclose details of what was said. Sources for the L.A. Times said Perry gave his testimony, which included a recommitment to his faith following his stint in the Air Force. He also promised to stand firm in opposing same-sex marriage and abortion.

Continue reading Rick Perry Talks Politics, Faith at Private Retreat...

August 19, 2011

Ron Paul Preaches a Different Kind of Conservative Gospel

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul is more than politician. He's a brand. For the past decade he has represented the libertarian movement within the Republican Party, often putting him at odds with hawks and social conservatives. But to win in Iowa, South Carolina, and other early primary states, Paul needs to win over more than fiscal conservatives. Paul’s campaign has been recently repackaging his candidacy for evangelical voters, preaching a new political gospel that may resonate with many evangelicals: to save America you need to change the culture, not replace the politicians.

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Last week, the Family Research Council's Values Bus tour cruised around Iowa with top Republican contenders including Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty (who dropped out of the race), and Rick Santorum. They spoke to crowds about their social conservative credentials. Paul, however, is not that kind of conservative. Other candidates are social conservatives who want public policy to reflect, defend, and promote morality.

Paul, however, has built his brand as a libertarian who wants government to stay out of regulating pornography, prostitution, drugs, gambling, and other vices that excite social conservatives. He preaches a message of liberty, and that often puts him at odds with Christian conservative groups.

However, Paul’s campaign is now reaching out to evangelicals, focusing on how Paul sees libertarianism as reflecting his Christian faith. Senior Paul strategist Doug Wead told Politico that the campaign is actively campaigning to win over evangelical voters.

“The missing link for us, the outreach to evangelicals, which is so key to South Carolina and the south — we’re filling it,” said Wead.

To do this, Paul is talking about his positions using Biblical allusions and references to doctrine. His speech at this year's Faith and Freedom conference illustrates this approach well:

1) Pass the Abortion Litmus Test. Paul begins his talks to evangelicals with a clear statement on his pro-life position. Paul says that life is the one political value higher than liberty. "As an OB doctor, let me tell you,” Paul said, “life does begin at conception."

2) Agree that American Society is Immoral. Paul echoes the social conservative narrative about the change in American society. The problems in American society began in the 1960's with the sexual revolution, the drug culture, and other changes began a decline in morality. Paul's twist, however, is that this is not a reason to enact new laws. Instead, he says that policy reflects morality, so the focus should be on changing the culture, not trying to change society through government.

3) Give Biblical Justifications for Positions. Paul describes his economic views as “biblical economics.” He references Old Testament admonishments against false weights and measures as a reason to go to the gold standard and to get rid of the Federal Reserve. He talks about government as a false idol. He recounts the story of Saul as a lesson against the temptation to want a king—which is an all-powerful government—who will steal young people for war and overtax the people.

Continue reading Ron Paul Preaches a Different Kind of Conservative Gospel...

August 15, 2011

After Pawlenty's Exit: Who Will Win Over Evangelical Republicans?

Tim Pawlenty ended his campaign for the Republican nomination yesterday, the day after Pawlenty ended a distant third in the Ames Straw Poll. The poll is non-binding, but it is an early test of a candidate's campaign strength. Pawlenty's campaign was well-organized, but it did not have the excitement and dedicated following of Rep. Michele Bachmann or Rep. Ron Paul, each of whom finished far above him in the poll.

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The departure of Pawlenty is unlikely to shake up the GOP field, but it does raise the question about evangelicals in the Republican party. Pawlenty was the type of candidate that mainstream evangelical leaders would like. In June, 45 percent of the National Association of Evangelicals leadership said Pawlenty was their top-pick for the GOP candidacy. The next favorite pick—“no preference,” followed by former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

Pawlenty has evangelical bona fides. His pastor is Leith Anderson, president of the NAE who officiated Pawlenty's marriage in 1987.

Pawlenty also had the support of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Standing next to Pawlenty at an event at the Iowa State Fair, Huckabee said, “I’m endorsing the principles of people who will stand for a smaller, more efficient government, lower taxes, the sanctity of life. And I wouldn’t be on this stage if this guy didn’t stand for those things.”

Dave Peterson, a political science professor at Iowa State University, told CT that Pawlenty was the only candidate that was acceptable to everyone, but he couldn't inspire enough voters to be a viable candidate.

“Pawlenty's strategy was a decent one in theory,” said Peterson, who was at the Iowa State Fair on Saturday. “His hope was that there would be a deadlock between candidates who were unacceptable to sizable portions of the party. Social conservatives wouldn't trust Romney, more establishment Republicans wouldn't trust Bachman, and lots of folks wouldn't trust Paul.”

Continue reading After Pawlenty's Exit: Who Will Win Over Evangelical Republicans?...

August 12, 2011

Bachmann Asked if She Would be 'Submissive to her Husband'

Was the question at Iowa’s debate last night out-of-bounds?

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In the first Republican presidential debate in Iowa, all of the candidates were asked about their positions on issues and their qualifications, and the topic of marriage came up more than once. Only one candidate, however, was asked about her own marital relationship. The Washington Examiner's Byron York asked Michele Bachmann if she would “be submissive to [her] husband.” York's inquiry has now become its own debate topic: was the question out of bounds?

York framed his question by asking about Bachmann's own statements on submitting to her husband. Bachmann spoke at the Living Word Church in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, in 2006. Bachmann recounted how she felt God to lead her into law and, eventually, a career in politics.

York asked:

In 2006, when you were running for Congress, you described a moment in your life when your husband said you should study for a degree in tax law. You said you hated the idea, and then you explained: 'But the Lord said, be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husband.' As president, would you be submissive to your husband?

Bachmann paused (while many in the audience booed) and then answered:

Thank you for that question, Byron. [laughter in audience] Marcus and I will be married for 33 years this September 10th. I'm in love with him. I'm so proud of him. And both he and I...what submission means to us, if that's what your question is, is respect. I respect my husband. He's a wonderful godly many and a great father. And he respects me as his wife. That's how we operate our marriage. We respect each other. We love each other. And I've been so grateful that we've been able to build a home together. We have five wonderful children and 23 foster children. We've built a business together and a life together, and I'm very proud of him.

Continue reading Bachmann Asked if She Would be 'Submissive to her Husband'...

August 8, 2011

Report: Rick Perry to Enter the GOP Presidential Race

Texas Governor Rick Perry will announce this Saturday his official bid for the Republican nomination for president. Politico reports that  Perry “will remove any doubt about his White House intentions” during an upcoming speech at a South Carolina conservative conference.   

Perry’s decision does not come as a surprise. The past few months were marked with the obvious signs of a presidential run: reports that he was meeting with donors, discussing plans with key Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire, and planning an August speech in South Carolina, an early primary state.

But there were also oblique indications. Perry makes his official bid just days after participating in “The Response,” a prayer event in Houston he helped organize. While Perry’s involvement with the 30,000- strong-event was described by some commentators as a “coming out party” for the Texas governor, he remained tight-lipped on his political intentions during the conference, which he described as “apolitical” and “nondenominational.” His remarks and prayer were more veiled than those of others on stage. In fact, nowhere in his prayer did Perry address “Jesus” or “Christ,” preferring instead the more ecumenical “Lord” and “Father.” [full text of his prayer below]

Either way, Perry enters the race with evangelical-Republican bona fides.

It is not clear, however, whether Perry will draw support away from Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota), who has received much of her support from grassroots social conservatives. Polls suggest that, despite his stance as a social conservative, evangelical, and southerner, the Texas governor is more likely to pull most of his votes from former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

In a June Rasmussen survey, Romney polled at 33 percent of GOP likely voters. Bachmann was second at 19 percent. A new Rasmussen poll, however, included Perry. Perry received 18 percent support while Romney's support dropped to 22 percent, and Bachmann's numbers remained relatively static at 16 percent. Other polls indicate a similar pattern. On average, Romney is polling at around 19 percent compared to Perry and Bachmann, who are each receiving around 13 percent support among Republican voters.

Continue reading Report: Rick Perry to Enter the GOP Presidential Race ...

June 23, 2011

Pawlenty Leads National Association of Evangelicals Poll

Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty came out on top of a survey from the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) this month. The NAE recently surveyed its 100-some board members, 45 percent of whom said they would name Pawlenty as the Republican candidate while just 14 percent said the same thing about former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Twenty-two percent were undecided.

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The survey asked, “Assuming Barack Obama is the Democratic candidate, if you were to choose a preferred Republican presidential candidate for 2012, who would you name?” Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee led the 2007 list when both parties were included. A spokesperson for the NAE said that the survey was an open-ended question where respondents entered a name. The full ranking was not available.

Pawlenty, who attends Wooddale Church led by NAE president Leith Anderson, met with the NAE Board of Directors at in 2008 while he was still governor.

“Pawlenty leads the list of Republican candidates for our evangelical leaders which might be expected since he is so often identified as an evangelical," Anderson said in the statement. "Although, like the rest of the nation, there are still many undecided. With more than a year before the national nominating conventions, a lot can change.”

While the press release stated that none of the board members mentioned religion when choosing another candidate, a recent Pew study suggested that evangelicals overall might have a harder time choosing a Mormon candidate.

CT interviewed Pawlenty earlier this year.

June 3, 2011

Evangelicals: Less Likely to Vote for Gay or Mormon Candidates

Mitt Romney formally announced his bid for the Republican nomination for president yesterday in New Hampshire, but a new poll suggests that the former governor of Massachusetts may still face an uphill climb to secure the votes of evangelicals because of his Mormon faith.

The May 25-30 survey from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press asked people how they would vote for presidential candidates with different traits. The survey found that a third of evangelicals (34 percent) said they would be less likely to vote for someone who is Mormon, compared to Mainline Protestants (19 percent) or Catholics (16 percent).

The findings were similar to Pew's 2007 survey when Romney attempted a previous run. With evangelicals making up a major voting bloc in the GOP primaries, particularly in early states like Iowa and South Carolina, a reluctance to vote for a Mormon candidate could hurt Romney. It could also affect fellow Mormon (albeit with different level of commitment) former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman who may still enter the race.

Overall, 25 percent of voters would be less likely to vote for a Mormon. Liberal Democrats were most opposed to a Mormon candidate (41 percent). Pew found that among the voters who were opposed to a Mormon candidate, about two-third of them said there was “no chance” they would support Romney for president.

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Evangelicals were also much more likely to oppose a gay candidate, with nearly two-thirds of them said they would oppose such a candidate. This is over twice the opposition among either Mainline Protestants (30 percent) or Catholics (25 percent).

Unlike opposition to a Mormon candidate, views of a possible homosexual candidate have changed over the past four years. In 2007, nearly half of Americans (46 percent) said they would be a less likely to vote for a homosexual candidate. In this survey, that percentage dropped to just one-third, and all groups showed less opposition to a gay candidate. Evangelicals also dropped (71 to 65 percent), but this was less than the change among other groups. Some of the largest changes in the two surveys came among African Americans (53 to 34 percent), those over 65 years of age (59 to 40 percent), and conservative Republicans (73 to 58 percent).

Continue reading Evangelicals: Less Likely to Vote for Gay or Mormon Candidates...

June 9, 2010

Haley Faces Runoff, Lincoln Hangs On in Primaries

Several women held the spotlight Tuesday as 12 states held primary elections.

South Carolina Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley will face a runoff on June 22 against her nearest competitor, Rep. Gresham Barrett. Haley, who is fighting to succeed outgoing Gov. Mark Sanford, fought allegations from two men who said they had an affair with her.

She also made an effort to highlight her Christian faith. Before the primary, CBN’s David Brody reported that Haley still visits a Sikh temple once or twice a year in respect to her family. Haley converted to Christianity when she was 24 and attends a Methodist church.

State Sen. Jake Knotts apologized for calling Haley a “raghead” on an Internet political talk show before the race. “We already got one raghead in the White House,” Knotts said. “We don’t need another in the Governor’s Mansion.”

Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas won the Democratic primary, beating the more liberal Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. In Nevada, Republican Sharron Angle will take on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in November.

California Republican voters chose former eBay CEO Meg Whitman to face Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown for governor, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina will take on Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.

February 25, 2009

Can Gov. Bobby Jindal Recover?

I confess. After President Obama's address last night, the place I watched it at closed right before Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's response. So I'm confined to the blogs and Twitter, but even conservatives are saying his delivery needs work.

New York Times columnist David Brooks called it "stale" and "insane" and "a disaster for the Republican Party." (h/t Ben Smith, Politico)

That's unfortunate for Jindal, considering what Brooks told me last week.

Are there other evangelicals you would like to see more of?

I liked Mike Huckabee's campaign. There [are] a bunch of governors who are committed Christians as well as very modern, sophisticated politicians like Bobby Jindal in Louisiana. The people will naturally emerge, I think.

Over at Beliefnet, Rod Dreher makes a religious comparison.

Bobby Jindal was a total disappointment. He was badly over-rehearsed; Matthew, my kid, watched with me and said, "He sounds totally artificial. He sounds like a televangelist." I can't improve on that description. It sounded like that to me too.

Continue reading Can Gov. Bobby Jindal Recover?...

November 21, 2008

Fred Thompson Heading Back to the Stage

Fred Thompson dropped his bid to lead the Republican National Committee and will return to acting, the Associated Press reports.

During his candidacy, Thompson told voters he didn't attend church and said he would not talk about religion on the campaign. He received an endorsement from the National Right to Life, but dropped out after a limp reception in the primaries.

November 17, 2008

Huckabee Takes a Few Jabs

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee mocks a few of his fellow Republicans - including a few evangelicals - in his book being released tomorrow.

Time magazine reports that the sharpest words go to Huckabee's former rival, Mitt Romney, who Huckabee describes as "anything but conservative until he changed the light bulbs in his chandelier in time to run for president."

Michael Scherer writes that Huckabee's book, Do the Right Thing: Inside the Movement That's Bringing Common Sense Back to America, "spared neither the rod nor the lash" for many conservative Christian leaders.

Huckabee writes of Gary Bauer, the conservative Christian leader and former presidential candidate, as having an "ever-changing reason to deny me his support." Of one private meeting with Bauer, Huckabee says, "It was like playing Whac-a-Mole at the arcade - whatever issue I addressed, another one surfaced as a 'problem' that made my candidacy unacceptable." He also accuses Bauer of putting national security before bedrock social issues like the sanctity of life and traditional marriage.

Huckabee calls out Pat Robertson for endorsing Rudy Giuliani and Dr. Bob Jones III for endorsing Romney. He says he spoke to the Rev. John Hagee by phone before the Texas pastor endorsed John McCain. "I asked if he had prayed about this and believed this was what the Lord wanted him to do," Huckabee writes. "I didn't get a straight answer."

Huckabee also describes the Arlington Group as "more enamored with the process, the political strategies, and the party hierarchy than with the simple principles that had originally motivated the Founders." Later, he writes, "I lamented that so many people of faith had moved from being prophetic voices - like Naaman, confronting King David in his sin and saying, 'Thou art the man!' - to being voices of patronage, and saying to those in power, 'You da' man!' "