White House officials are well aware of the disenchantment in the base. In what seemed sincere comments, one official stressed that Bush was as committed as ever to passing the marriage amendment. The White House wishes people would be a little more understanding of the uphill climb. ?The amendment last time got 48 (votes). It needs 67. You do the math,? another official noted.
But at least one trouble spot concerning the White House appears to be something of a non-issue to the base. When Joann Davidson?a longtime member of Republicans for Choice?was named co-chairman of the RNC recently, many Christian conservatives from her home state of Ohio howled. Yet almost none of the grassroots social conservative leaders interviewed for this story raised it as an issue.
Not all news with the base, however, is bad. The Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), which was the primary sponsor of the Christian ball, was thrilled to have such a strong turnout from Bushies.
After being asked in an interview if he is optimistic about Bush?s second term, TVC President Rev. Lou Sheldon responded, ?The answer is emphatically yes.? He didn?t believe that the president backpedaled on gay marriage?Rev. Sheldon?s pet issue?in the Washington Post interview.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, however, noted that he never heard Bush on the campaign trail talking about how unlikely it would be to get the Senate behind the federal marriage amendment. Nonetheless, Mr. Perkins, who was not at the Christian gala, says he has ?high expectations? for the second Bush term. He chalked up the marriage misstep to ?the wrong people whispering in the president?s ear.?
With mixed emotions among the base right now, the White House knows it needs to provide reassurance to get the entire team back on board. And if the president wants to add personal accounts to Social Security, he?ll need every supporter he can muster, including Christian conservatives.
Christian conservative leaders know they are needed for Social Security reform, and many would like to use that leverage to get the president to spend more political capital to the federal marriage amendment. The real question is who will have to help the other out first.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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