Spoke with Gary Bauer of the American Values Committee, a member of the Arlington Group: “We’ve been meeting with candidates for a year, every one of the major candidates except Giuliani. Many of us are intrigued and excited by Thompson, but we have great concerns about his advocacy of federalism in dealing with the issue of protecting the sanctity of marriage, and that is certainly an issue we want to discuss with him further.”
I also spoke with an individual familiar with the thinking within the group, and this preson clarified that you won’t be seeing an Arlington Group endorsement. But the process has been put in place to, the group hopes, see most of these socially conservative leaders unifying behind one candidate. “There’s been an ongoing effort by pro-family values leaders to try to come to some sort of agreement on what candidate best represents our values and, just as importantly, get the nomination and beat Hillary,” the individual said.
“While some members of the group are heads of C-3 organizations [the FEC classification barring from direct endorsement of a candidate] many people in the groups have PACs, C-4s, other hats that they wear and they and me and others will, through a variety of those tools, be very active in the nomination fight.”
This individual said the Arlington Group members have not been able to agree on a candidate. “There has been a great deal of excitement about the possibility of a Thompson campaign; many of us are very happy about how clearly he criticized and called for the overturn of Roe v. Wade. But there is concern that the federalist constitutional amendment that he leans toward on marriage just wouldn’t work. How can you have a couple married in Massachusetts and then, when they move to Tennessee they’re not married anymore? It just seems to our legal people that America is going to end up with one definition of marriage. That’s what we want, actually, and we want that definition to be the traditional one… We hope to convince all the candidates that on this issue federalism is a not as high a value philosophically as making sure marriage has traditional configuration.”
This individual said the reports of Thompson lobbying for an abortion-rights group seventeen years ago was a non-factor. “It was a non-story. The leaker of the story was not a pro-life person, it was someone trying to sow discord in our ranks. And beyond that, Fred Thompson has a voting record after that lobbying. He’s gone further than Ronald Reagan or George Bush on how direct he has said that Roe is bad medically, bad for our country and bad for the courts.”
Asked about the rumor that members of the group might be flirting with Huckabee, this individual responded, while never mentioning the Arkansas Governor directly, “it’s not just that the candidate will be philosophically in tune; we have a realistic understanding that in a cycle where everything is bunched up in the front like this, you have got to be able to bring in major resources, enough to compete in 20 states at once. This makes a number of candidates not as viable to us as they might otherwise be.”
The Arlington Group will be meeting tomorrow afternoon.