Chris­tian con­ser­va­tives pledge for Thompson

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Ralph Z. Hallow

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.”

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