Ken Blackwell

Yesterday, Texas’s solidly conservative Governor Rick Perry endorsed Rudy Giuliani for president. Meanwhile, several prominent conservative leaders like James Dobson have spoken out against Mr. Giuliani and other leading Republican candidates.

Liberals are delighted. The New York Times even gave Mr. Dobson space in which he opined about the possibility of a third party candidate if Mr. Giuliani wins the Republican nomination.

They shouldn’t uncork the champagne just yet.

The fact that conservatives are going in different directions right now gives rise to three questions they need to ask themselves. This week’s Family Research Council Values Voter Summit in Washington D.C. – where all the major GOP candidates will speak - presents the perfect forum.

The first question is whether they can vote for a candidate with whom they have disagreed on one or more key issues. If they can’t, then they can’t vote for any of the top-tier GOP candidates. Messrs. Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain and Fred Thompson have all had stances on key issues with which social conservatives have disagreed.

If they can vote for someone with whom they have disagreed, the second question they need to ask is: Do they vote for the candidate who personally shares their views on marriage, abortion and Second Amendment rights, or do they vote for the candidate who will best advance conservative beliefs on those issues?

Ronald Reagan is not running this year. Then again, even before he was president, Reagan did not live up to the standard of President Reagan.

Mr. Reagan was a former Democrat who was divorced and who supported President Roosevelt’s expansion of the federal government. He enacted tax increases and expanded abortion rights when he was governor of California. Yet conservatives now rightfully recognize him as one of the greatest presidents in our country’s history.

As president, he gave us tax cuts, a stronger military, respect for religious expression, pro-life policies, a major pro-Second Amendment law, and a more conservative Supreme Court. He delivered, and America is better off for it.

The reality is this: The Republican nominee will be someone with whom conservatives have differed on one or more key issues. Some of these candidates have recently reversed their long-held public positions without much explanation, while others hold to their core positions but openly offer to find common ground with movement conservatives.

Any one of these Republican candidates would provide us with public policy advances akin to those President Reagan gave us.

Ken Blackwell

Ken Blackwell, a contributing editor at, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union and is on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. He is the co-author of the bestseller The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency, on sale in bookstores everywhere..
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