Two influential social conservatives ruled out a pro-life third-party candidate as a viable option for the Republican nomination in 2008 Friday.
“I’d say possible, but probably unlikely,” former Executive Director of the Christian Coalition Ralph Reed said in an interview with Townhall at the American’s for Prosperity American Dream Summit in Washington, D.C.
Former Ohio Secretary of State and 2006 Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Kenneth Blackwell also indicated he did not agree with a third-party strategy. He told this reporter, “Given what is at stake in this election, I don’t think we can lose our focus and chase pipe dreams.” Blackwell said: “The reality is primary season is a season where we do the sorting out and the choosing of standard bearers.”
Focus on the Family President James Dobson wrote in a New York Times op-ed that he and 50 other pro-family leaders had unanimously voted on a resolution in a September 29 meeting that read: “If neither of the two major political parties nominates an individual who pledges himself or herself to the sanctity of human life, we will join others in voting for a minor-party candidate.”
Other voters at that meeting included Tony Perkins, who heads Family Research Council, where Blackwell is a senior fellow.
Reed said raising a third-party candidate would be difficult to do this late in the 2008 campaign cycle. He noted a third-party candidate would “have to get going virtually today and I don’t think will get going today because they don’t know have an answer on whether or not the Republican nominee is going to be someone they can work with until probably February or March.”
But, what if a pro-choice candidate, like former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani keeps his lead in the polls and captures the Republican nomination? Would social conservatives be forced to make a decision between principle and electability?”
Reed said no.
“The decision between do we stand on principle or we go with electability is a false choice,” Reed said. “The reality is, in a free society, it’s always a mixture….If you stand on principle and elect no one to office and don’t have the ability to do anything, your principles suffer because you can’t do anything to save the unborn, to strengthen marriage, to lower taxes, to protect the state of Israel and or to make sure we have an offensive strategy, instead of a defensive strategy on the war on terror.”
Reed mentioned the successful election of Paul Coverdell to a U.S. Senate seat in 1992. “Coverdell said he was pro-choice,” Reed said. “He was not where we were on the abortion issue, but he was with us on funding, he was with us on judges, he was with us on partial-birth abortion. We really got his vote 99 percent of the time. He rose to leadership and helped defeat the Clinton health care plan. Were we mistaken to sit down and work out an understanding with him? Clearly not. It was the right thing to do.”
Of Giuliani’s often-made promises to conservative circles he would appoint “strict constructionist judges” in the mold of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito to allay qualms about his spotty record on social issues, Reed gave some advice to the Giuliani campaign and the conservatives he’s courting.
Reed said: “Mayor Giuliani has to make the case to social conservatives of the party and the social conservatives are going to have to decide if he’s with us on judges and if he’s with us on the Hyde amendment and if he’s with us on partial-birth abortion, if that’s enough.”