thompsonpicture2.jpgWhen Fred Thompson signed Shannon Royce as his director of grassroots last week, he gained one of the conservative Christian world’s best-connected activists. Royce has served as the chief lobbyist for the Southern Baptist Convention and for the last few years has been Executive Director of the Arlington Group, perhaps the country’s strongest coalition of conservative Christian leaders. The Arlington Group’s executive committee includes the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, the American Family Association’s Don Wildmon, and American Values’s Gary Bauer. Royce spoke with Beliefnet this week.
Fred Thompson opposes both a Human Right Amendment and a Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Aren’t those two bedrock aims of the social conservative movement?
I’d love a Human Life Amendment at some point in the future, and it’s an important goal for the pro-life community to drive toward. But we are 25 to 30 votes short of that in the Senate and short even more in the House. So to not have someone pushing that [as president] for the next four years is not important as a pragmatic calculus.
[Thompson] does support marriage as one man and one woman. But even with Republican Senate, House, and a Republican president, we didn’t have the votes [for an amendment to ban gay marriage]. For me personally, that is something the pro-family movement should continue working on. But as president [Thompson] would not interfere with that and he has no role whatsoever dealing with the amendment process. It’s handled by the states and Congress.
As Executive Director of the Arlington Group, you’ve spent the last four years pushing for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Are you no longer convinced that an amendment is politically possible?
The political realities have come more sharply into focus in the efforts I’ve been involved in for the last four years. Amendments are hard and they should be hard–we should not willy-nilly amend the Constitution. I think it’s still important, but the fact that [Thompson] does not support the Federal Marriage Amendment is not something that would keep me from supporting him.
Fred Thompson has been slipping in recent polls in Iowa and New Hampshire. Are you concerned that Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee is becoming the more socially conservative alternative to Rudy Giuliani in the race?
Romney is a significant opponent. He is spending millions and millions–the last number I heard was that he put 20 million [of his own money] into his campaign. The concern with Romney is that he’s been all over the map on issues of significance. His record on life and gay rights and a whole number of other issues is all over the map. He’s not consistent.
Governor Huckabee knows how to ring the bell for social conservatives. And he is very winsome on the stump. My concern is that he doesn’t have the organization or the money to go forward. And on issues of concern, especially on taxes and immigration, his rhetoric and his history don’t match up.
At last month’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, Fred Thompson raised some eyebrows by opening up a bit about his personal faith. Is that something he’ll continue to do on the campaign trail?
He is a very private man about his faith and you will see him sharing that in ways that are comfortable for him. Our recent ad in Iowa is fabulous. He talks about how our rights come from God.


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