Some in party fear GOP is stray­ing on so­cial is­sues

The Washington Times Weekly - - From Page One - By Ralph Z. Hallow

MIN­NEAPO­LIS — Some na­tional Repub­li­can Party of­fi­cials worry that their party is mov­ing away from its con­ser­va­tive stands on so­cial and re­li­gious is­sues in prepa­ra­tion for the 2008 elec­tions.

“Evan­gel­i­cal and pro-life Catholics are a crit­i­cal part of the GOP’s elec­toral coali­tion,” said James Bopp Jr., an In­di­ana mem­ber of the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee, which on Aug. 4 con­cluded its four-day an­nual sum­mer meet­ing here.

“The GOP can­not win in 2008 with­out their en­thu­si­as­tic sup­port,” Mr. Bopp said. “It re­mains to be seen whether the GOP is mov­ing away from them. Whether the GOP is do­ing so will be de­ter­mined by who is nom­i­nated for pres­i­dent.”

Rhode Is­land RNC mem­ber Robert Man­ning sug­gested the Repub­li­can Party is mov­ing away from so­cial con­ser­vatism, but called it a wise tac­ti­cal move.

“There’s an aware­ness among the na­tional com­mit­tee that the is­sues which are of dom­i­nant im­por­tance to a broad sec­tion of vot­ers are tend­ing to­ward na­tional se­cu­rity and eco­nomics and less the so­cial-re­li­gious is­sues that were dom­i­nant in prior cam­paigns,” Mr. Man­ning said.

That shift, he ar­gued, does not rep­re­sent a threat to the elec­toral suc­cess of Repub­li­cans in 2008.

“If the party has its head­lights on, it re­sponds to is­sues that con­cern a ma­jor­ity of vot­ers,” Mr. Man­ning said. “That’s how you craft suc­cess­ful plat­forms, and that’s what can­di­dates build suc­cess­ful can­di­da­cies around.”

Mr. Man­ning said that at the pres­i­den­tial level, peo­ple vote first for the lead­er­ship qual­i­ties of the can­di­date and be­low that for the eco­nomic and na­tional se­cu­rity poli­cies of th­ese lead­ers. Peo­ple, he said, judge so­cial is­sues in a third tier of de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

Most RNC mem­bers ei­ther swore they would not let the na­tional party dis­tance it­self from re­li­gious and so­cial con­ser­va­tives stands or saw no in­di­ca­tions of that hap­pen­ing.

“Not as long as I’m in this party,” said long­time Oklahoma RNC mem­ber Bunny Cham­bers.

Michi­gan Repub­li­can Chair­man Saul Anuzis said the party is not drift­ing from its so­cial con­ser­vatism.

“The re­li­gious right and so­cial con­ser­va­tives are still a very big part of the party and will be for a long time to come,” Mr. Anuzis said. “The Demo­crat poli­cies clearly are an­ti­thet­i­cal to what re­li­gious and so­cial con­ser­va­tives be­lieve in. The left that con­trols the Demo­cratic Party is very much pro-choice on abor­tion and anti-tra­di­tional mar­riage.”

Louisiana Repub­li­can Party Chair­man Roger Villere, who de­scribed him­self as con­ser­va­tive but not part of the re­li­gious con­ser­va­tive move­ment, said there’s a strong group of so­cial con­ser­va­tives within the party and “we are work­ing con­stantly to keep it on the right path.”

Re­gard­ing the role of Protes­tant evan­gel­i­cals and pro-life Catholics in the party’s elec­toral coali­tion, Mr. Villere said, “We need their sup­port in or­der to win.”

For­mer Mas­sachusetts Gov. Mitt Rom­ney, the only Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date to ap­pear in per­son at the gath­er­ing, drew rave re­views from many mem­bers for his ad­dress on Aug. 3.

Some Repub­li­cans won­der what will hap­pen to the party’s elec­toral coali­tion if Ru­dolph W. Gi­u­liani is the nom­i­nee. The for­mer New York mayor has been am­biva­lent about the prospect of over­turn­ing Roe v. Wade and calls the de­ci­sion to have an abor­tion “deeply per­sonal.”

“Nom­i­nat­ing Gi­u­liani would se­ri­ously jeop­ar­dize the sup­port of evan­gel­i­cals and pro-life Catholics and would trig­ger a fight within the GOP on the pro-life plank and other mat­ters re­lated to so­cial is­sues that would crip­ple the party,” Mr. Bopp said.

But Gary Jones, the new chair­man of the Oklahoma Repub­li­can Party, said the base prob­a­bly would re­main in­tact be­cause “whether the nom­i­nee is Mr. Gi­u­liani, for­mer Mas­sachusetts Gov­er­nor Mitt Rom­ney or for­mer Ten­nessee Sen­a­tor Fred Thompson, he would be more at­trac­tive to so­cial and re­li­gious con­ser­va­tives than any likely Demo­cratic nom­i­nee.”

Mr. Anuzis said if Mr. Gi­u­liani won the nom­i­na­tion, it would not threaten the sup­port of re­li­gious and so­cial con­ser­va­tives be­cause they un­der­stand the most im­por­tant thing is the pres­i­dent’s ap­point­ing the right kind of fed­eral judges. He noted that Mr. Gi­u­liani has as­sem­bled con­ser­va­tive ad­vis­ers on ju­di­cial ap­point­ments.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.