Christian conservatives pledge for Thompson
Several leading Christian conservatives say they will rally to former Sen. Fred Thompson, who they expect to announce “in a matter of weeks” that he will seek the Republican nomination for president next year.
“It’s not ‘if’ but ‘when,’ he will an- nounce,” one Protestant evangelical leader says of the behind-thescenes maneuvering for position in the 2008 race.
A prominent Roman Catholic social conservative says the three Republicans who have raised the most money and have led the polls — former New York Mayor
Rudolph W. Giuliani, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — fall short of social conservatives’ expectations, but Mr. Thompson doesn’t. “He’s right on the issues [. . . ] He’s better than all of the above.”
Both the Protestant and Catholic activist, like other Christian conservatives, spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity.
They say their support for Mr. Thompson is shared by likeminded conservatives, though the sentiment is not unanimous in their circles. Many born-again Christians are said to be skeptical of Mr. Giuliani’s views on abortion and same-sex “marriage,” of Mr. Romney’s change of position on abortion and of his Mormon religious faith, and of Mr. McCain’s advocacy of campaign-finance reforms that restrict speech and issues-advocacy ads.
Mr. Thompson, whose celebrity is based on his television and movie acting roles as well as his tenure as a senator from Tennessee, has consistently opposed abortion rights, but until recently had backed campaign-finance laws unpopular with advocacy groups on both the right and left.
The move toward Mr. Thompson was said to have been afoot before Mr. Giuliani, the Republican front-runner in the early polls, announced earlier this month that he supports abortion rights, restrictions on the ownership of guns, and the legal recog- nition of same-sex unions with some of the benefits and privileges of marriage.
“It’s the moment of truth for conservatives,” says one of the Christian conservative activists. “Either social conservatives rally to stop a Giuliani nomination and victory for him in November 2008 or our issues — abortion, samesex marriage, the preservation of the family — are permanently off the Republican Party agenda.”