The Campaign Spot

FRC’s Tony Perkins: ‘Yes, There Will Be Some Evangelicals Who Vote For [Giuliani]. In My Experience, It’s About Half and Half.’

Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Center Action, just completed a conference call with reporters. What stood out to me were his comments on Rudy:
“Yes, there will be some evangelicals who vote for him. In my experience, it’s about half and half. … In the eyes of many social conservatives, there’s little distinction between [Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani]. Clearly there’s some distinction, they’re not identical. But when you consider those who have come into the political process on ideological path or issues path, not a party path… These are people who are not there to advance a political party. They are there to advance causes. If they’re indistinguishable on so many issues that are vital to these voters, it’s hard to see why you should vote for one instead of the other.”#more#
Other highlights from the call:
Q: If there is no clear frontrunner, what advice would you give evangelical voters?
Perkins: I don’t think it’s ever good to sit out the process. As citizens we have ability and right, I believe as Christian citizens we have an obligation to be involved. I’m optimistic that there is going to be one or two candidates emerge from the summit next week with a strong consensus of support among social conservatives.
I’m pretty optimistic we’re going to see the field solidify.
On Fred Thompson: I have met a number of times with Sen. Thompson. I think he has a lot to offer. I think he covers a wide spectrum of issues. I think he has a record that shows he is conservative socially. I think he is a fiscal conservative, and is strong in foreign policy and defense. The challenge is that if you look at this field, there’s a lot to like. There’s a little you want to have in each one of them. If you could mix and match, we would have a candidate tomorrow.
This summit will give these candidates a chance to speak directly to a good cross-section of our movement. We have representatives from all fifty states.
On the Utah meeting: I was at that meeting it’s been misconstrued a little bit. It was not a declaration of intent, it was a declaration of principle that there is a line we will not cross. If the party chooses to break its commitment to creating a culture of life, we’re not going to go in that direction with the party.
There’s only one candidate who has this issue, and that’s Mayor Giuliani. It would be very problematic for the party to nominate a candidate who broke with 30 years of Republican Party history.
There’s no desire to create a third party, no action underway, simply the statement that if the party breaks with social conservatives, then social conservatives will break with thee party. It’s an if-then scenario.
I don’t know if I’m going to personally endorse a candidate at all.
Q: If Giuliani exceeds expectations, doesn’t that undermine threat?
One of the reasons we were insistent that he be invited to the Values Voters Summit was to give him the opportunity to say what his message is. We’ve invited the Democratic candidates to come as well. [None have accepted so far.] It’s helpful to have that dialogue.
I don’t envision majority of social conservatives actively supporting a pro-abortion rights candidate… The old ‘ABC,’ Anybody But Clinton, is not enough to rally conservatives who have been working for thirty years to create a culture of life.
[Guiliani] will be treated cordially. He will be given twenty minutes to make his pitch… My experience is, you don’t beat a liberal with a moderate. You get enthusiasm on the left, but you don’t get enthusiasm on the right. Yes, there will be some evangelicals who vote for him. In my experience, it’s about half and half.
Q: What advice would you give Romney?
I gave up consulting when my candidates kept losing, so I’m not one to give advice. But I’d say keep doing what he’s been doing… In my opinion, he’s one of the strongest on our issues. It’s true he has had a change of position on these issues. I do believe they’re genuine. I do not see him going back. He’s staked ground that he has to hold to.
[Mormonism] is an unknown religion, in the sense that people are not familiar with it. Some people have said he should be like John Kennedy. I think it’s a little different of a scenario. There are a lot of commonalities between Catholic and Protestant state. Mormonism, there’s a lot of distinctions. He’s best when he’s focused on the issues and his policy positions; then down the road he can have a dialogue on faith.
We’re a third, roughly of the Republican party and we’ve had a good relationship with fiscal conservatives and national security conservatives over the past 30 years. We need a candidate who is acceptable on our policies, as well as fiscal policy and defense and foreign policy. We’ve tried to be respectful to the other members of our coalition by not backing a candidate who isn’t respectful of their priorities; now we’d like them to be respectful by not backing a candidate who isn’t respectful of our priorities.

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