Issues and ideas take center stage for social conservatives

Win McNamee GETTY IMAGES WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 03: Members of the Faith and Freedom Coalition listen to conservative speakers … Continued

Win McNamee

GETTY IMAGES

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 03: Members of the Faith and Freedom Coalition listen to conservative speakers June 3, 2011 in Washington, DC. The Faith and Freedom Coalition is holding their second annual conference and strategy briefing over two days in the nation’s capital.

Social conservatives gathered in Washington over the weekend to get an up close look at Republican presidential candidates and to learn how to best organize for the 2012 presidential elections. The social conservative issue of the next election, apart from the economy, which is certainly every voter’s major concern, appears to be Israel. When speakers at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference delivered the pro-Israel portions of their remarks, the attendees frequently responded with standing ovations. I talked about Israel as a top social conservative on Fox News a couple of weeks ago and my claim was vindicated throughout the first national social conservative conference with a focus on 2012.

Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Danny Danon, an Israeli elected official who we have worked with for a number of years, received some of the most enthusiastic support at the conference. Although not well known to the attendees before he was at the podium, when Danon said, “President Obama, take your hands from Jerusalem,” the dinner audience’s response was similar to the way Congress applauded the tough lines delivered by Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu at the joint session. Two days after his speech, Danon was on Fox News live from Jerusalem discussing his remarks. He is an Israeli leader that people need to start paying attention to.

When analyzing the 2012 candidate’s performances, minus Newt Gingrich who sent a video because he was out of the country, it all comes down to enthusiasm. The activists gathered appeared to be more concerned about picking the best person to run against Obama rather than blindly backing a candidate with a faith similar to their own. Issues and ideas have taken center stage.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was deservedly treated like a star, her speech was perfectly pitched and sincere. Herman Cain proved once again that he has lighted a fire among the conservative grassroots. While he is now being taken seriously, the question for Cain is: Can transform the grassroots energy into a fundraising machine like Bachmann’s? Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who has a high profile in social conservative politics, can establish himself as a force early in the campaign if he has the money to setup a robust campaign.

HYUNGWON KANG

REUTERS

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, former chairman of Godfather’s Pizza, delivers remarks during the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s second annual conference and strategy briefing in Washington, June 4, 2011. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who has a solid social conservative record, is now being treated like a first tier candidate. Hurdle one, having Pawlenty become a household name among the most engaged activists, has been cleared. The challenge for Pawlenty now is to turn all of the people who like him and agree with his ideas into people that love him and join his campaign. A couple of solid debate performances and more exposure outside the early caucus and primary states where he is spending so much time could make the difference.

Jon Huntsman, a former governor and ambassador who is relatively unknown to outside the beltway activists, highlighted his pro-life record as Utah’s governor and began to push back against the “social moderate” label bestowed upon him by the media and opponents. While he may not be counting on the social conservative vote to win the nomination, by appearing at the conference Hunstman acknowledged the importance of social conservative enthusiasm, not only in a the primary, but the general election.

JOSHUA ROBERTS

REUTERS

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (C) greets supporters after speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Washington June 3, 2011. Republican White House hopefuls courted Christian conservative voters on Friday at the conference where U.S. economic concerns shared the stage with social issues that dominate the evangelical agenda. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS RELIGION)

There is no doubt about it; Mitt Romney is the frontrunner. Although his speech was not a barnstormer, Romney was treated like a candidate who may very well become the Republican nominee. The activists may not be sold on Mitt 2012, but they respect the Governor and could be convinced to enthusiastically support him in a race against President Obama. A key takeaway from the conference was a theme of post-primary unity to take back the White House.

Finally, there are those who did not attend the event who could totally shake up the Republican primary and alignment of social conservatives. If Sarah Palin, Texas Governor Rick Perry, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, or someone else with big name identification jump into the race, a complete reanalysis will be necessary. Even Mike Huckabee has reopened the possibility of what appeared to be a firmly shut door on another presidential campaign.

If the field is not altered, we are seeing the formation of what may very well become a Romney versus a yet to be determined alternative or two. The question that remains is whether the alternative candidate(s) will be able to attract support from both the right and middle of the Republican Party?

About

Jordan Sekulow and Matthew Clark Jordan Sekulow is executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). Matthew Clark is an attorney at the ACLJ. Follow them on Twitter: @JordanSekulow and @_MatthewClark.
  • iowamom47

    Excellent article by Jordan Sekulow. What Christian conservatives want is what William F. Buckley called for – the most conservative candidate that can win. If the Republican candidate cannot unite Republicans (including Tea Party/Constitutionalists) and draw independents, and Democrats who want a change, it doesn’t matter how many items on the conservative check list the candidate can check off. We must be pragmatists, rather than political puritans. We have a list of candidates about which we can be enthusiastic, but let us think beyond ourselves; let us think about the American electorate.

  • amelia45

    Put a knee-jerk radical evangelical wing-nut on the Republican ticket and watch it crash. That includes Backmann, Palin, Santorim, or Huckabee. There is hope for Romney, Pawlenty, Cain, and a few others – but that depends on how well they articulate a plan to address unemployment, deficits, a run-amok congress, energy, and health care.

    Health care costs and access are a national issue. The insurance industry, after 50 years of running the show, has clearly shown they can’t. We need another answer.

  • YEAL9

    Why the Christian Right no longer matters in presidential elections:

    Once again, all the conservative votes in the country “ain’t” going to help a “pro-life” presidential candidate, i.e Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain, Ron Paul or Rick Santorum, in 2012 as the “Immoral Majority” rules the country and will be doing so for awhile. The “Immoral Majority” you ask?

    The fastest growing USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million “Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers” of aborted womb-babies” whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million “IM” voters in 2012.

    2008 Presidential popular vote results:

    69,456,897 for pro-abortion BO, 59,934,814 for “pro-life” JM.

    And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (may it should be called the “Stupid Majority”?)

    (The failures of the widely used birth “control” methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and S-TDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer birth control methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and STDs.)

    (Currently, a perfect birth control barrier system does not exist. Time to develop one! In the meantime, mono-ma-sturbation or mutual ma-sturbation are highly recommended for heterose-xuals who need a contraceptive. Abstinence is another best-solution but obviously the sex drive typically vitiates this option although being biological would it not be able to develop a drug to temporarily eliminate said drive?)

  • Becki2

    Peace to Jerusalem! God Bless Israel forever! May God give us a Godly leader to lead this nation back to Him. Thank you Jordan for all the insite! Keep us up to date. Morality and respect are also very much needed in this Country. The list could go on for pages. Maybe later.
    Again God Bless!

  • Becki2

    How sad. You are a perfect example of why this once great nation is know fast heading for 3rd world status! Your mis- understood and misrepresented seperate of church and state statement, was meant to keep the goverment out of the churches business, not the church out of the goverments!

  • ahava4gives

    Romney will most likely roll on the US – as his track record shows. Cain is the only candidate who maintains his stand and his word – in all areas of his leadership and life.

  • fordmaniac

    This time, fellow citizens, this time may we begin again to seek God’s will above our own will. And may we seek a candidate who is not ashamed to do the same. Our country repeatedly claims to be 80% Christian. Our country was clearly founded and anchored in the Christian Bible. Our country was repeatedly blessed by our Lord prior to the small minority being allowed to dictate their wayward ways (tail wags dog? — how long will “dog’ allow this to go on???). Friends and fellow countrymen, the time is now! If we fail to retake our country FOR THE VAST MAJORITY we more than likely will never have the chance again.
    IN GOD WE TRUST <<>>>>>> May God once again Bless America !

  • bluejaycalling3

    Dear Jordan,

    However committed a stand for Isreal any candidate may have, it had better be as strongly bound to protecting our children in the womb. If we don’t get that one right, the election, the presidency, and this nation, is doomed to ultimate failure. We have a President who openly supports the death of helpless children; we had better counter that with God’s leading in the most crucial issue this country is facing… 4000 deaths every day! We would not tolerate that on the battlefield.

  • bigbadude

    What most people do not realize just because someone has a d or an r next to their name means nothing! We have limited our selves to scraping the bottom of the barrel. We elect people who believe in nothing.. A man or woman who
    have no faith in a higher athority support 1. We need a christian who as the bible tells will be seen by good works. All others need not apply.
    If we want to remain free this election matters. In every sector we need God fearing believers not liberals bent on a one world Government.

  • MrCool1

    America, is great, because of it’s founding as a Christian nation, In God We Trust…

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