yoest.jpgFamily Research Council president Tony Perkins has raised doubts about Mike Huckabee, but when God-o-Meter learned that FRC vice president of communications Charmaine Yoest (pictured) had taken a leave of absence to serve as a Huckabee senior advisor earlier this month, it wondered where the group really stood. Then God-o-Meter learned that Family Research Council director of web communications Joe Carter has also taken leave from FRC, the Christian Right’s premiere DC lobby, to join Huckabee’s online effort. A source at the Family Research Council tells God-o-Meter that no other senior staff has left to join any other presidential campaigns. But FRC government affairs chief Tom McClusky tells God-o-Meter that the organization’s lending staff to the Huckabee effort—neither Yoest nor Carter will be paid by FRC while they’re with Huck—does not represent the group’s tacit endorsement of his campaign. “They’re not reflective of where the remaining brain trust is,” says McClusky. “None of these candidates has everything we’re looking for.”

God-o-Meter caught up with Yoest this week and asked why she signed up for Huckabee. “I felt like he was the only the candidate who could beat Hillary Clinton,” she says. “This is a guy who is willing to take hard stands and who articulates them with courage but also in a winsome way that is compelling for people who don’t always agree. I get excited about bringing back the Reagan coalition—those Democrats who have been disaffected by Republicans who’ve not made a strong appeal to them.”
To God-o-Meter, this explanation hints at why Huckabee is the candidate best suited to the new evangelical political zeitgeist, characterized by a commitment to transcending the conservative orthodoxy on non-social issues even as the movement stands firm on old guard Christian Right issues like opposing abortion and gay unions. It explains why Huckabee’s pro-environmental positions have raised the ire of the old line Christian Right but sit well with much of the evangelical rank and file. “When did the Republicans cede the environment to the other party?” Yoest asks. “Christian conservatives more than anybody else see it as God’s creation and that we are stewards of the environment. It doesn’t make [Huckabee] a liberal. It makes him a forward-looking politician.”
Yoest and the old guard do share a common obsession in beating Hillary, however. “You can’t beat a liberal with a moderate,” she says. “People who think Giuliani could beat Hillary Clinton are not accurately assessing how strong the voters feel about life and marriage. They’re not going to come out strongly enough to put him over the top. And you look at Romney and see the money he’s raised and how little traction he’s been able to get… I don’t’ see why people would think he’s able to knock out Hillary Clinton.”


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