Focus on the Family Founder and CEO James Dobson grabbed the spotlight today to underscore what he first vowed more than a year ago: “I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances … he’s not in favor of traditional marriage and I pray that we don’t get stuck with him.”McCain has been on record as saying, “I think, uh … I think that gay marriage should be allowed if there’s a ceremony kind of thing, if you wanna call it that … I don’t have any problem with that.” He is also the co-sponsor of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law, which Dobson virulently opposes.
After first rejecting McCain in early 2007, Dobson – the conservative 72-year old Christian leader once considered a kingmaker for Republican presidential candidates – went on last year to dismiss the candidacies of Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson.
Thompson, according to a story that first appeared in U.S. News & World Report, was not Christian enough for Dobson (though Dobson later attempted to reject that he had said what he had said).
And, in a May 2008 column in the online World Net Daily, Dobson said he “cannot and will not” vote for Giuliani, whom he termed “an unapologetic supporter of abortion on demand.”
“It is an irrevocable decision,” Dobson wrote.
Much of the past year has been spent trying to analyze just whom Dobson might support – personally, mind you, as his Colorado Springs-based Christian ministry and media empire is a nonprofit and thus cannot endorse political candidates.
Similarly, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who used to support gay marriage and abortion but doesn’t now, has never gotten the Dobson nod. “I don’t believe that conservative Christians in large numbers will vote for a Mormon, but that remains to be seen, I guess,” Dobson told conservative commentator Laura Ingraham last fall. Dobson has also never publicly shared his stance on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Finally, last fall, Dobson announced that he may turn to a third-party candidate if no Republicans rise to his standards – though he clearly stated he didn’t intend to start a third party.
Which leads us to today, Super Tuesday, when Republicans in 24 states will cast primary and caucus votes – and a day that McCain is polling far ahead of the remaining GOP candidates.
In a “special alert” published at Focus on the Family’s political action site and released to the Laura Ingraham Show, Dobson reiterated yet again, “I Cannot, and Will Not, Vote for Sen. John McCain.” Then went after the Arizona senator with a vengeance, as well as throwing Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama under the bus as well.
“I am deeply disappointed the Republican Party seems poised to select a nominee who did not support a Constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage, voted for embryonic stem-cell research to kill nascent human beings, opposed tax cuts that ended the marriage penalty, has little regard for freedom of speech, organized the Gang of 14 to preserve filibusters in judicial hearings, and has a legendary temper and often uses foul and obscene language,” Dobson wrote.?
“I am convinced Sen. McCain is not a conservative, and in fact, has gone out of his way to stick his thumb in the eyes of those who are. He has sounded at times more like a member of the other party. McCain actually considered leaving the GOP caucus in 2001, and approached John Kerry about being Kerry’s running mate in 2004. McCain also said publicly that Hillary Clinton would make a good president. Given these and many other concerns, a spoonful of sugar does NOT make the medicine go down. I cannot, and will not, vote for Sen. John McCain, as a matter of conscience.
“But what a sad and melancholy decision this is for me and many other conservatives. Should Sen. McCain capture the nomination as many assume, I believe this general election will offer the worst choices for president in my lifetime. I certainly can’t vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama based on their virulently anti-family policy positions. If these are the nominees in November, I simply will not cast a ballot for president for the first time in my life.
“These decisions are my personal views and do not represent the organization with which I am affiliated. They do reflect my deeply held convictions about the institution of the family, about moral and spiritual beliefs, and about the welfare of our country.”
Dobson still hasn’t said whom he would support.
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