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crist.jpgJohn McCain’s meeting with potential vice presidential runnng mates Mitt Romney and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal this weekend at his Arizona ranch suggests McCain is sensitive to the Christian Right’s ongoing misgivings about his presumptive nomination and wants to put the movement at ease. But McCain’s invititation to Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to join the powwow shows that pleasing the Christian Right is not necessarily an overriding concern.
Mitt Romney, a social liberal when he was governor of Massachusetts, remade himself as a “pro-family” candidate during his presidential bid, vigorously supporting a federal amendment to ban gay marriage and pro-life policies that included opposition to government-funded embryonic stem cell research. Of all the presidential candidates, Romney wooed the Christian Right most openly and assiduously. He won endorsements from major evangelical figures, including Bob Jones III and Mark DeMoss, and praise from Focus on the Family’s James Dobson and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land.
Despite his success winning over conservative Christian leaders, however, Romney’s Mormonism was a major stumbling block to winning evangelical voters, who broke overwhelmingly for Mike Huckabee during the primaries. That problem would likely persist for him as a running mate, raising questions about his electoral utility to McCain, who already has his work cut out among evangelicals.
Bobby Jindal is a Christian Right poster boy, as the New York Times reports:

Mr. Jindal, who was born a Hindu but became a Roman Catholic as a teenager, campaigned for governor as a social conservative, opposing human embryonic stem cell research and abortion in any form and favoring teaching “intelligent design” in schools as an alternative to evolution.

Jindal is reportedly a pal of Focus on the Family’s Dobson.
Charlie Crist, meanwhile, has much less of a reputation as a Christian Right ally. The movement lined up behind Crist opponent Tom Gallagher during his 2006 campaign for governor. This is from an anti-Crist piece from that year that ran in Human Events:

Charlie Crist is a conservative impostor. He claims to be pro-life and even told a priest that he would sign a South Dakota-style abortion ban. Moments later he retracted this statement when pressed by reporters. But his record speaks louder than his words. Charlie Crist is so “pro-choice” that he cast a deciding vote against a 24-hour waiting period for an abortion. Even the liberal NARAL Pro-Choice America rates Charlie Crist as “mixed choice” for his support for abortion rights. This should not come as a surprise. Charlie Crist is the same man who praised the judges that ordered Terri Schaivo’s feeding tube removed, condemning her to death by starvation. Our next governor will select at least two Supreme Court Justices to serve on the state’s highest court to preside over these important moral issues. We will have a unique opportunity to tip the court’s balance to a 4-3 majority in favor of judicial restraint. Tom Gallagher has the character to make good choices, and Charlie Crist has indirectly told us through his actions and his words that he will nominate two liberals.

Whether Crist has made inroads among Florida’s Christian conservatives is less clear. Still, should McCain wind up selecting Romney or Jindal, he’ll send a clear message to the Christian Right that the movement really matters to him. Picking Crist could send the opposite message.


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