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God-O-Meter

As possible Republican contenders like Newt Gingrich have stayed out of the presidential race and as Fred Thompson has declined to voice clear support for causes like a constitutional ban on gay marriage and 2005’s Terri Schiavo congressional intervention, God-o-Meter has learned that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is picking up new support among Christian Right activists. God-o-Meter has learned that prominent evangelical conservatives like Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Council, and author and radio host Janet Folger have contacted Huckabee to announce that they will endorse him.
Many of the social conservatives galvanizing around Huckabee, including Staver, are treating Mitt Romney as their second choice, vowing to support him should the GOP nomination battle turn into a fight between Romney and ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
“I was waiting to see what Thompson would do, but he opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment and frankly hasn’t done anything to excite the conservative base,” Staver says. “Everybody likes Huckabee, but the big question was whether he could win. Now people think if they can get behind him, he can win.”
At a gathering of religious conservatives last weekend in Salt Lake City under the auspices of the secretive Council for National Policy, Staver and Folger made a presentation on Huckabee’s behalf. They urged evangelical leaders to coalesce around Huckabee rather than back a rival plan to draft a third-party candidate in the event that Giuliani, an enemy of the Christian Right because of past support for abortion right and gay rights, clinch the Republican nomination.
“Support for Romney’s leveled off and Fred Thompson’s flip-flop on the marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution took the wind out of his sails,” says a prominent social conservative who attended the Council for National Policy meeting. “Of late, Huckabee has done well.”
Among those at the session where both the Huckabee and the third-party strategies were discussed was Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, perhaps the country’s most influential social conservative, who has ruled out supporting Giuliani, McCain, and Thompson, but has left the door open to a Romney or Huckabee endorsement.
Many Christian conservative activists said the turning points for Huckabee were his second place finish in August’s Ames straw poll and his performance at last month’s “Values Voters” debate in Florida. Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuiani, and John McCain all declined to appear at the forum.
“Huckabee cleaned house at the Values Voter debate,” says Folger, referring to a straw poll that night in which Huckabee won 63-percent of the vote.
Phil Burress, an evangelical activist in Ohio who led the successful charge to ban same-sex marriage in his state in the 2004 election, says he is still undecided but that he is “leaning” toward Huckabee.
“I was in the Thompson camp until he came up with this concoction of every state having its own marriage laws,” says Burress. “The fact that he wasn’t gaining in the polls or raising much money has certainly been the drawback of Huckabee till now… he has a track record of always being solid on the family issues.”


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