As we have said since the earliest days of this campaign cycle, the 2008 election is for president, not pastor. Conservative evangelicals need a president who shares our political and moral values and priorities, can win in 2008, and can govern effectively thereafter by articulating and implementing a values-based governing strategy. This is just what Mitt Romney did as governor and will do as president — and that's why the six co-bloggers at Evangelicals for Mitt support him. With the first primary votes less than a month away, it's time you joined us.
Governor Romney Shares Our Political & Moral Values
Political and moral values are informed by — but not the same as — one's religion. That's why we shouldn't casti our votes based on whose theology we like most. History shows that to be a poor approach.
For example, in 1980 voters had two choices: a divorced movie actor who did not regularly attend church and was not on good terms with all of his children, and a once-married Southern Baptist whose evangelicalism was at the core of his national identity. Voting on the basis of whose doctrine was better would have meant electing the second guy — Jimmy Carter — over the first, Ronald Reagan. Excluding those who don't hold to orthodox Christianity would also have meant excluding such great Americans as Thomas Jefferson — who denied the divinity of Christ — from positions of authority. Is anybody going to argue someone else should've written the Declaration of Independence?
Today, America needs a president who embraces a comprehensive and positive values agenda: standing for the sanctity of life, protecting traditional marriage, defending religious liberty and basic human rights at home and abroad, combating poverty and disease within the world's poorest communities, fighting for better quality of life for our citizens, and winning the War on Terror.
That's not to say doctrine doesn't matter — it does, very much, in our churches and in our individual relationships with God. But this is a presidential election, and those are about values. Governor Romney is the only candidate with all the right ones. One of his opponents (Mayor Giuliani) is simply not with conservative evangelicals on our bread-and-butter issues — life and marriage — and perhaps even more disturbingly, another opponent (Governor Huckabee) has virtually nothing to say about winning the War on Terror. That's probably the ultimate values issue, since the people we are fighting hate our values and want to destroy our civilization.
Governor Romney Can Win in 2008
The Supreme Court is one vote short of overturning Roe v. Wade, and the next president will likely nominate two or three justices. But he can't do that if he loses to President Hillary Rodham Clinton. Governor Romney can beat her — and the rest of the Democratic field. As a fiscal and social conservative, he's the only candidate who can hold the Reagan coalition together. Plus, he has already put together a strong, well-organized campaign with the firepower to win. Every single other GOP candidate either alienates a key part of the coalition or has weak a operation incapable of defeating a well-funded, ruthless, counter-to-our-values opponent in the general election.
Governor Romney Can Govern Effectively Thereafter
It's worth reprising: The Republican nominee must be both a fiscal and social conservative. That's the Reagan formula for success. When it breaks down, Republicans lose. And it will break down if Republicans nominate a candidate who says public funding for abortions is a constitutional right (Mayor Giuliani) or one who's known nationally for hiking taxes and spending money (Governor Huckabee).
But there's more than that. Above all else, the president has to lead — he has to be a good executive. And as much as we love President Bush, we've seen far too many examples in recent years of poor performance in this regard. Not only that, Washington is a tough town — and that will be true whether the Democrats continue to control Congress after 2008 or not. In that environment, leadership — especially conservative leadership — isn't easy.
Fortunately, Governor Romney has been a leader longer than he has been a politician. Prior to his political career, Governor Romney helped to launch the very successful Bain Capital — which helped launch such successful franchises as Staples and the Sports Authority — and then led a turnaround at Bain Consulting. He also saved the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City which, prior to his leadership, were mired in debt and corruption but subsequently became one of the most successfully-run Games in memory.
And he's governed in a difficult political environment, too. Massachusetts is the most left-wing state in the union. If you think Bay State Democrats aren't any different from their Arkansan counterparts, try defending traditional marriage or vetoing stem-cell funding up in Boston, as Governor Romney did, and see what they do. (As for New York City Democrats, I don't even know how they would react to such values-based governing, because I can't think of anyone who's tried it.) But Governor Romney did — in addition to helping turn the economy around, opposing driver's licenses and in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants, and defending Catholic Charities' right to restrict adoptions to man-woman couples. No other candidate has a record of such successful, across-the-board conservative leadership — especially on such hostile terrain.
Summing It All Up
Mitt Romney has been a standout conservative governor of a very leftist state. He believes in the traditional family, and he has fought for it — just ask Massachusetts' pro-family leaders. He's admitted he was wrong on abortion, and is now solidly pro-life — as his record in Massachusetts testifies. He also opposes embryonic stem cell research's speculative and open-ended carelessness with human life. He's shown courage under fire in several challenging situations, and has lived out his values (both publicly and privately) during a time when other Republicans, sadly, have not.
Conservative evangelicals do not have to compromise on our values this election: Gov. Romney embodies all the principles for which we've long fought. Plus, he has the organizational strength, executive experience, and moral rectitude to remind us what being a conservative is all about.
In other words, he's not just a candidate evangelicals can support — he's the best choice for people of faith. It's not even close. He's the only Republican candidate who can unite our party and win in November.
And the reality is: It's time to choose. If we refuse to support Governor Romney, the next president will definitely be a pro-choicer, probably one named Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Come on, brothers and sisters — let's get serious.
In the interests of full disclosure, EFM co-founder Nancy French has served as a consultant to Romney for President, Inc. The other members of the EFM team do not work for the Romney campaign, and the campaign has no editorial influence on or control over the site.