James Dobson Interview: It's About Principle, not Pragmatism

Frank Pastore

10/10/2007 3:47:58 PM - Frank Pastore

Frank Pastore: Dr. Dobson why don’t we start with what happened last week—there was a meeting in Salt Lake City—let’s pick it up there.

Dr. James Dobson: Yes, there was an informal meeting of about 50 pro-family and pro-life leaders that had come together. The purpose of it was to talk about what we would do if the Republican Party nominates a pro-abortion candidate—if he is the standard bearer for Republicans, what would we do. We talked about it for about an hour and then there was a proposal put to the group saying, if this happens, if the Republicans abandon the unborn child and the institution of marriage, and if we have only that choice or a choice for Hillary, what will we do.

There were about 50 people there and, to my count, 44 of them stood saying we will not vote for Rudy Giuliani or whoever it is we’re talking about that’s pro-abortion. And that got covered all over the nation and, as you can imagine, I was inundated.

So I wrote an op-ed in The New York Times saying why we would not do that—because you start with a moral principle. You have to make your decisions about who’s going to lead you not on the basis of pragmatics—not on the basis of who can win or who’s ahead in the polls or who has the most money or who’s the most popular. You begin by saying what are the irreducible minimums that I believe in, that I care about; what are the biblical values I cannot compromise.

I think, Frank, that many Christians have not thought it through yet and they look at Hillary Clinton and they’re scared to death of her (for very good reason, I am too) and they just say anybody’s better than that, let’s take the lesser of two evils. I cannot do that.

Pastore: I’m wondering why is everyone upset with James Dobson? Why aren’t people upset with Rudy supporters and pro-choice Republicans that have given his campaign money, knowing that we cannot violate our core values and our core principles and elect a pro-choice candidate—we will not do that. Where was their thinking beforehand, when they started supporting a candidate?

Dobson: Here’s why I cannot vote for Rudy Giuliani. He’s pro-abortion. He’s never repudiated gay marriage in New York City or at least the civil unions in New York City. He’s called a champion of gay rights. Rudy is opposed to school choice. He’s in favor of open borders. He lived with a mistress in the mansion in New York while he was married to his wife—and she was in the same house. He’s been married three times. When his second wife got sick of it she threw him out and he went to live with two homosexuals. He appointed terrible liberal judges as a mayor; he says now he’ll appoint Scalia-type judges, you can believe that if you want to, I don’t because his record says otherwise. He dressed up in drag and appeared on “Saturday Night Live” in a very disrespectful manner—I just can’t see a presidential candidate doing something like that. He’s a Catholic, but says he will not be guided by it. He has utter disdain for the pro-life and pro-family movement. I mean it goes on and on and on.

This is the guy that conservative Christians are about to vote for and they’re made at me because I won’t? When people are tired of me and through with me I’m gone. I can do something else. But I will not compromise my principles, I will not do it. That’s just where I stand.

Pastore: Dr. Dobson, I’m aware that you also stood before 300,000 or 400,000 people on the Washington Mall and made a pledge. Reaffirm that for us.

Dobson: That was 19 years ago, 1988, and that was at the Washington Monument and I stood there and said—it’s on video tape today—that I will not for the rest of my life cast a single vote in favor of any politician that would kill an innocent baby. I will not do it. And I’ve been fighting for the unborn child for 35 years, Frank, and all of the sudden, because we’re scared of Hillary, we’re going to bring someone into the White House if we can with our votes that will contradict everything we stand for. It’s breathtaking.

Pastore: Dr. Dobson, if Hillary were to win the presidency then that just means that the pro-life movement continues to fight another day, it would rally and mobilize the base, it would also send a message to the conservatives in America that without the pro-life movement, without the evangelical conservative Christian vote, you’re not going to win. If Rudy Giuliani wins it could be the end of the pro-family, pro-life movement because if he were to have four years in the White House the support for the pro-family movement could easily dry up. Why would the Republican Party support anything other than a pro-life candidate? Of course, that might be popular in a general election, but we sacrifice our soul at the altar of political expediency.

Dobson: That’ absolutely true, Frank. Once again there are some assumptions here that are not right. First of all, I don’t believe that Rudy Giuliani can beat Hillary because he will not have the large percentage of the conservative Christian, pro-life movement. There was a Rasmussen poll on Thursday of last week that said 27 percent of the entire G.O.P said they would not vote for a pro-abortion candidate. You cannot win an election losing 27 percent of your base, you just can’t. The other assumption is that it’s going to be 13 months from now the way it is right now. Things change. I’m not at all sure that even Hillary is going to be all that she looks like she is now, even though the press is doing everything to convince us that it’s all over; they have stampeded us into abandoning our principles.

There’s one other dimension to it, which you were alluding to a minute ago, but if that pro-life community holds its nose and votes for a person like this despite the things they have believed, the pro-family and pro-life movement is gone for ever. It’s gone. But if Hillary does win—and that would be awful—but if she does win that same community would mobilize like never before. So there are just a lot of good reasons to not do this.

There is some encouraging evidence that Huckabee is gaining ground and he does believe what we believe and so does Tancredo and so does Duncan Hunter and so does Sam Brownback—we’ve got alternatives. Why do we have to go chasing after someone who is contradictory to what we believe?