UPDATE: Today Newt Gingrich said he might run for president if supporters cough up $30 million.
Three down, seven to go. Unless you count Newt.
Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger noted last week that it appears James Dobson is taking a process-of-elimination approach to selecting which Republican presidential candidate will get his official personal, not-sanctioned-by-his-nonprofit-organization blessing.
In March, Dobson, who can rally – or not – potentially hundreds of thousands of conservative voters, told US News & World Report that he didn’t think Fred Thompson was a Christian. After the story appeared, a peeved Dobson backed away from his Thompson critique and said he’d been maligned by the secular media – though it was unclear exactly what had been incorrectly reported. But this week – a week after Thompson said he isn’t a regular churchgoer and wouldn’t stump for Christ on the campaign trail – Dobson appears to have made it official: Thompson is not presidential material, at least in his mind.In an e-mail that Dobson sent to undisclosed recipients, which was obtained by the Associated Press and confirmed as legitimate, Dobson ripped Thompson as being weak and “wrong on issues dear to social conservatives.” Specifically, he criticized Thompson’s opposition to a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and his support of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation.
He has no passion, no zeal and no apparent `want to,'” Dobson wrote. “And yet he is apparently the Great Hope that burns in the breasts of many conservative Christians? Well, not for me, my brothers. Not for me!”
Dobson has already said no way to Rudy Giuliani (“an unapologetic supporter of abortion on demand”) and to John McCain, who has said he doesn’t have a problem with gay marriage (“under no circumstances,” Dobson fumed back in January).
For those who are keeping track, there are still plenty of available contenders for Dobson to pick from – including religious conservatives Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee and Alan Keyes. Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo and Mitt Romney are also in the race.
But, if on-air love is any indication, it would appear that Dobson’s top choice isn’t even in the race – at least not yet. Back in March, Dobson invited Newt Gingrich on his radio show, ostensibly to talk about “the growing threat of radical Islam.” During the show the thrice-married Gingrich admitted he had been having an affair at the same time he was working to get Clinton impeached for his affair.
Dobson’s Colorado Springs-based Christian media empire subsequently soft-padded what it termed as Gingrich’s “moral failings,” pointing out that, after all, Gingrich claims to have “gotten on my knees and sought God’s forgiveness.” He has also since repeatedly hinted he may enter the presidential race this fall.
Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential and a columnist and contributing editor at the Colorado Springs Independent. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org