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"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

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Dobson-Huckabee Endorsement Watch

Posted by: Lowell Brown at 07:04 am, November 13th 2007     —    Comment on this post »

According to The Prowler, sources close to James Dobson are insisting that a Huckabee endorsement is imminent, and is to be unveiled in Iowa. We've expressed skepticism about such an endorsement, but for the sake of discussion, let's assume it actually takes place. Where would we be?

First, Huckabee would be established as the Evangelical Christian candidate, a status he seems to be seeking actively.

Then, the MSM would immediately make Huckabee's confirmed status the central narrative of his campaign, along with the perceived split among conservatives. It would be manna from heaven for them.

Think about the Time magazine cover: "Pastor Mike Leads The Religious Right – Can He Win?" Imagine a split cover photo, Giuliani on the left, Huckabee on the right, the candidates facing each other: "Righteous Thunder on the Right: Can Giuliani Survive?"

But that's just the Giuliani-Huckabee fight.  A Dobson endorsement might help Huckabee move up to the McCain-Thompson level, just below the top tier where Romney and Giuliani reside. A more likely Time cover would have Huck on the right and the other candidates (Rudy, Mitt, Fred and McCain) on the left.

One other scenario: Romney becomes the man to beat as Giuliani fades. Then the discussion is all about Mormon distinctives and Evangelical intolerance. The MSM delves deeply, repeatedly, and incompetently into doctrinal and historical matters on both sides of the theological divide. I don't know about you, but I find that prospect pretty alarming.

As a Mormon, I'm probably not as well-qualified as John to comment on how Evangelicals would be affected by this, but I do think I know how America would be affected. Values voters would be marginalized as a religious bloc within the Republican party. A candidates' religious views would become more central than ever during the primary season. The discussion would be all about religion.

Now, I know I may seem to some like Chicken Little, and maybe things won't be as bad as I fear. But the story line the MSM would love so much may not be so wonderful for American politics or America.

So, Dr. Dobson, what'll it be?

John adds his two cents: I am more in the Hugh Hewitt camp.  A vote for Huckabee is a vote for Guiliani.  It is essentially a third-party vote.  Just a few comments. 

Dobson does misstep from time-to-time, but he always seems to pull back just short of full blown bad move.  He has some good people advising him, and I am guessing in this case there is a huge internal battle going on over this.  I am also guessing the pro-Huckabee forces are losing and this is an attempt to create influence where none currently exists.

Now, I should point out that if you asked me where Dobson was going to be six months ago, I would have said behind Huckabee.  We have discussed before that Dobson is on the horns of serious dilemma when it comes to Romney.  Endorsing someone like Huckabee would be a "safe" move for someone in Dobson's position.  But that was six months ago, before the race had clearly shaped up into a Romney-Guiliani two-man slugfest.  Now such a move would appear to be a punt.

Additionally, Dobson was wrapped up in the third party threat of a few weeks ago.  I think he did so precisely to try and point out why Romney was the only logical choice, but apparently some of his people did not get the message – they are trying to call Dobson's bluff with the Huckabee thing which on the surface seems like the best of both worlds, but in the end really is just going third party.

I do think a huge Evangelical move behind Huckabee would be a mistake for Evangelicals.  Whether that move came in the form of a headline endorsement like Dobson, or from some overwhelming polling data, or some other avenue.  Let me explain why, briefly.

Huckabee simply lacks the horsepower to do the job in front of him.  He lacks the money, he lacks the organization – Frankly, I think he lacks the skill or he would have the organization and the organization would produce the money.  For a large identifiable group like Evangelicals to throw their weight behind a candidate that shares their identity, but clearly cannot win, is to say your group identity matters more than what the group stands for.  That is a recipe for political irrelevance in American politics.

Think about Jesse Jackson – he cornered the black identity vote and for a couple of cycles he made himself matter a lot in Democratic circles, but with his demise that voting bloc is hardly heard from anymore.  That is the best Evangelicals can hope for when it comes to Huckabee.

Late Addition/Update:  Hugh Hewitt and Jim Geragthy add some interesting thoughts when it comes to Huckabee. 


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