An interesting and important development in the 2008 race for the White House: conservative evangelical hatchets are out in force, trying to cut down a prominent 2008 presidential hopeful. Hillary Clinton? Barack Obama? John Edwards? Wrong on all three counts.
Having already publicly attacked Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani in a remarkably candid editorial last month, Focus on the Family and Family Research Council have now unleashed their political machine against none other than Mitt Romney, working in tandem with some of Fred Thompson’s online organizers. It’s fair to interpret this as an early signal about where these groups are likely throw their political weight in the lead-up to Super Tuesday.
Read The Nation. article:
With onetime Republican presidential frontrunner Senator John McCain in meltdown, Mitt Romney suddenly finds himself under fire from some of the Christian right’s most influential activists. Romney’s evangelical critics claim the former Massachusetts governor and devout Mormon was complicit in the Marriott hotel chain’s sale of pay-per-view porn on its in-room television sets when he served on the corporation’s board of directors from 1992 to 2001. Two Christian-right operatives involved in orchestrating the charges have enlisted as Internet organizers for former Senator Fred Thompson, who is preparing to enter the race formally. The tactics of these religious-right players, targeted below the radar against Romney, are calculated to alter decisively the outcome of the Republican primary contest.
The assault was launched on July 5 with an opening shot in the form of a breathless press release issued through the mega-ministry Focus on the Family. In it, veteran antiporn crusader Phil Burress called Romney’s failure to take action against pay-per-view hotel porn during his tenure on Marriott’s board “extremely disturbing.” That same day, a Focus on the Family spokesman took to the radio airwaves to ask whether Romney would “turn a blind eye” to pornography if elected president. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which functions as Focus’s Washington lobbying arm, immediately joined the pile-on. He briefed the Associated Press on the record, explaining that Romney must “take some responsibility” for his supposed connection to Marriott’s porn profiteering. The AP report on the accusation against Romney was subsequently reprinted in the pages of major outlets from The Boston Globe to The Washington Post. It only took a full six years after Romney resigned from Marriott’s board for the Christian right’s leading lights to profess their outrage—and only hours for the press to echo it.
Chris LaTondresse is the special assistant to the CEO at Sojourners/Call to Renewal.