So the third question social conservatives need to ask themselves is: What do I need to hear from a candidate for them to earn my support in both the primary and general elections? Understanding that the candidate who matches up best with their personal views in the primary might not be the nominee they wind up with in the fall of 2008, but for now, it is imperative conservatives ask hard questions. And the more concerns there are in a candidate’s background, the tougher those questions should be.
Such questions should not cause harm. For example, no candidate should give the names of the first two people they would nominate to the Supreme Court, because it would likely be the kiss of death to those nominations, and we would lose out on what would otherwise be top justices. Instead, the candidates should say who on the Court would be their models, and why.
I hear social conservatives say that they’ve said for years that they would never vote for someone who is pro-choice. However, they never imagined that a pro-choice president could give them a pro-life Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade.
I hear some say they cannot support a president who does not support a federal marriage amendment. They may forget all the other ways that marriage can be protected, and that since the president does not sign a constitutional amendment, the top question is whether such an amendment can get the votes in Congress and the states.
I hear some say they could never trust someone who supported the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. They forget that they’ve been pleased overall by the president who signed that law. President Bush could have vetoed it, but he didn’t.
Conservatives who have worked to end abortion and have Roe v. Wade overruled cannot lose sight of what is at stake in this election. The winner will shape the Supreme Court with the appointment of at least two justices. Conservatives should have no doubt that Hillary Clinton will appoint Roe v. Wade friendly justices who will keep abortion legal for at least the next generation.
Everyone should back whatever candidate best suits them in the primary. At the end of the primary season, it will be one Republican who will take on Mrs. Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee.
So let’s ask tough questions. And then let’s secure important promises from the eventual nominee — Romney, Thompson, McCain or Giuliani. Social conservatives can’t protect the unborn, traditional marriage and the Second Amendment if they shut themselves out of the debate.