campaign finance reform

Religious Right Activists Warn GOP Not To Nominate Mitt Romney

Right-wing activist and former California legislator Steve Baldwin has organized an open letter to “Conservative, Catholic and Evangelical Leaders” asking them to refuse support for Mitt Romney’s campaign for president. Already a number of activists including failed US Senate candidate and Tea Party hero Joe Miller; Rick Scarborough of Vision America; Brian Camenker of MassResistance; Linda Harvey of Mission America; Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association; Ted Beahr of WND and Movieguide; Gary Glenn of American Family Association-Michigan, Kelly Shackleford of the Liberty Institute; Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation; Floyd Brown of WND; Dick and Richard Bott of Bott Family Radio, and the leaders of a number of anti-choice groups have signed the letter.

The letter says that “a Romney candidacy would be disastrous for the conservative movement and for the country,” writing that he is insincere in his conservative beliefs and “continues to support many aspects of the homosexual agenda even today.” The activists claim that “the flatly illegal charade of ‘gay’ marriage exists solely in Massachusetts due to Governor Romney’s illegal actions,” and lists numerous other issues including abortion rights and health care reform where Romney has reversed himself: “Romney has also been both in favor and against minimum wage legislation, capital gains taxes, gun control, amnesty for illegal aliens, campaign finance reform, the Kyoto agreement, gambling, gun control, and many other issues.”

They conclude by warning that nominating Romney “would be a disastrous mistake”:

Most disturbing is the key role Mitt Romney played in accelerating two of the greatest threats to our Judeo-Christian culture and free enterprise system: Homosexual marriage and government control of health care. In both instances, the actions Romney took – or didn’t take – on homosexual marriage and RomneyCare have done lasting damage to our country. Romney’s aggressive efforts to implement the unconstitutional Goodridge decision set a precedent which inspired pro-homosexual marriage activity nationwide, and his RomneyCare bill served as the model for ObamaCare, the biggest lurch toward socialism since the New Deal.

As such, Romney has done more damage to America in his four years as Governor than any Democrat officeholder we can think of. But Romney, to this day, defends his actions on both fronts and sincerely believes he has done nothing wrong, an attitude which only raises additional questions about his fitness for national office. We must question his worldview, his sincerity, and his judgment. We believe the election of Mitt Romney would be a disastrous mistake for the conservative movement and for the country.

Rod Parsley: It's Not Judicial Activism If Judges Are Conservatives

According to Rod Parsley, if judges overturn laws that are supported by conservatives, they are outcome-based activist judges who don’t care about the Constitution. However, Parsley says that it isn’t judicial activism if courts overturn laws backed by progressives, such as campaign finance reform and health care reform. Rather than argue for judicial modesty or restraint, Parsley supports judges overturning laws as long as they are laws traditionally supported by the left.

Illogically, after praising himself for decrying “judicial activism,” Parsley slams liberals for accusing the courts of activism when they disagree with their rulings.

“See, when liberals realize they can’t win on the arguments of the facts, they attempt to win in the war of words, and often they do win,” Parsley says, “that’s how abortion came to be known as ‘women’s health care,’ and perverting the definition of family became ‘marriage equality,’ lately, they’ve taken to calling Bible-believing Christians ‘evolution deniers.’ and now this, calling fidelity to the Constitution judicial activism. Words mean things.”

McCain Wins By Losing

Suffice it to say that John McCain and Wisconsin Right to Life (WRTL) have had something of a rocky relationship in the past, engaging in extensive litigation over the senator’s flagship McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation ever since WRTL ran ads back in 2004 targeting WI senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold despite a provision in the law “banning ads that mention the names of candidates for public office within certain ‘blackout periods’ ranging from 30 to 60 days before an election--if funds from corporations or unions are used to pay for the ads.”

As the Weekly Standard explained:

McCain has thrown himself into the McCain-Feingold litigation with unusual fervor, personally intervening in Wisconsin Right to Life's lawsuit rather than relying solely on the lawyers for the Federal Election Commission and Justice Department who are charged with defending the constitutionality of federal election laws. "It is not a common, ordinary occurrence" for sponsors of federal legislation to become involved in litigation over their handiwork, notes Bradley A. Smith, a law professor at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, who served as FEC chairman during Bush's first term and is a vocal opponent of McCain-Feingold as well as most other regulation of elections. "How rare it is I can't tell you, but it's more common just to file an amicus [friend-of-the-court] brief."

The case ended up going all the way to the Supreme Court and McCain even filed a brief in which he argued that WRTL’s actions were “a classic case of business corporations funneling unregulated monies to an advocacy group to pay for ads that will influence a federal election” in violation of the law.    

Unfortunately for McCain, he ended up losing the case on a decision written by Chief Justice Roberts and joined by Justice Alito and and others whom he voted to confirm to the Court.  

But it looks like WRTL isn’t one to hold a grudge, because they have now endorsed him and are citing his pledge to appoint more justices like Roberts and Alito to the Supreme Court as one of the key reasons:

The Wisconsin Right to Life Political Action Committee today announced its endorsement of Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential race.

Senator McCain has a stellar 100% voting record on protecting unborn children from abortion.  He opposes the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion on demand in the United States and he voted to ban the gruesome partial-birth abortion procedure. He opposes taxpayer funding of abortion and supports legislation that would require parental notification prior to a minor's abortion.

Senator McCain opposes human cloning and the intentional creation of human embryos for research purposes.  He has stated that he would nominate U.S. Supreme Court justices in the mold of Justices Roberts and Scalia.

Presumably, all McCain needs to do to rack up support from his former Religious Right foes is to keep pledging to appoint the type of judges they demand, even if that means ones who will strike down legislation and views he otherwise champions.

Janet Folger: Sheep

For the last several months, Janet Folger dedicated her life to helping Mike Huckabee try to secure the Republican presidential nomination, hosting the Values Voter Debate where she anointed Huckabee the "David among Jesse’s sons," serving as co-chair of his Faith and Values Coalition, praying for bad weather to keep voter turnout down, and even launching a front-group to attack Mitt Romney and John McCain. All along she warned that Huckabee was the only acceptable candidate in the race and the only one who could keep the Right out of prison while declaring that McCain was unacceptable because he:
Pushed "campaign finance reform" that would put a gag rule on citizen groups like Wisconsin Right to Life, who McCain sued when they suggested people actually contact their senators to let them know how they felt about the filibuster on judicial nominees. He was also one of the gang of 14 who kept the filibuster alive. He also voted against the Marriage Protection Amendment.
Folger made clear that only "sheep" would support McCain, while the principled "shepherds" were intent on backing Huckabee:
We heard the mantra, "A vote for Huckabee is a vote for McCain!" Interestingly, the same people who said that are now saying, "Don't vote for Huckabee. Vote for McCain!" Really? Support the guy who wants to force us to fund medical experimentation on human beings like Joshua and Rachel Hubbard – who were themselves once frozen embryos. Real human beings. Just older than they were when they were shoved in a freezer and vulnerable to policies like those of Sen. John McCain. Just because someone shoves children in the freezer doesn't mean they're no longer human beings in need of adoption. "Thou shalt not kill" doesn't say "unless they're really small and discarded by people who don't want them." If you found a kid locked in a closet, would you justify performing medical experiments on him before taking his life because he "was going to die if nobody let him out of that closet anyway?" They are rallying to the very guy who wanted a two-month gag rule prior to an election on all of us who want to inform people about what Congress may be doing – like forming a gang (of 14, for example) to block good judicial nominees. Ann Gimenez, whose husband Bishop John Gimenez, a true Christian leader who just went on to his reward, said, "This is not the time to lose our moral compass. Take a stand for righteousness, and don't deviate from it." Good advice. There are sheep, and there are shepherds. Sheep follow the pundits, the polls, political expediency and promised perks. Shepherds follow principle. Gov. Mike Huckabee is such a man. So are those who stand on principle with him.
Well, now that McCain has secured the nomination and Huckabee has dropped out, Folger has suddenly abandoned all her talk of sheep and shepherds and declared that the prudent, principled thing to do is to vote for John McCain:

Is the Right Secretly Endorsing Romney?

Last week on Time’s Swampland blog, Michael Scherer took notice of Focus on the Family Action’s post-South Carolina primary political analysis and observed that, despite the fact that those involved have all refused to endorse any candidate, they certainly seemed to have a favorite candidate:
The video about Rudy Giuliani suggests that the former New York mayor would appoint a judge who would uphold Roe v. Wade, and knocks him for dressing in drag on Saturday Night Live. The video on John McCain hits the Arizona senator for campaign finance reform, his opposition to the federal marriage amendment and his 2000 comments about Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. "You want someone to depend on when you are in a fight, and you never really know where he is going to be," says Perkins about McCain in the video. This is all to be expected. But then it gets controversial. The video on Mike Huckabee, who is the overwhelming favorite among the nation's evangelical voters, is surprisingly harsh. After praising Huckabee's social views, both Perkins and Tom Minnery, a policy expert at Focus on the Family, hammer the former Arkansas governor for his foreign policy views. Minnery suggests that Huckabee does not understand the cause for which American troops are dying in Iraq. Then Perkins suggests that Huckabee lacks the fiscal and national security credentials needed for a conservative presidential candidate. "The conservatives have been successful in electing candidates, and presidents in particular, when they have had a candidate that can address not only the social issues, [but] the fiscal issues and the defense issues," says Perkins. "[Huckabee] has got to reach out to the fiscal conservatives and the security conservatives." Ouch. So what about Romney? He comes up roses. "He has staked out positions on all three of the areas that we have discussed," says Perkins. "I think he continues to be solidly conservative." Then Minnery defends Romney from criticism that he is too polished and smooth. "Mitt Romney has acknowledged that Mormonism is not a Christian faith," Minnery adds. "But on the social issues we are so similar."
Scherer went on to note that Mat Staver, a Huckabee backer, complained that the analysis of Huckabee was “lacking objectivity and context” and, shortly thereafter, Focus on the Family Action went back and re-edited the video to include more praise for Huckabee’s stand on social issues. Scherer concluded logically that this could amount to a “stealth endorsement” of Romney, but Tom Minnery, of Focus on the Family and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council both insist that it is nothing of the sort:
First of all, rest assured that we have not been endorsing any candidates, either “stealthily” or otherwise. Our comments are what they are — a review of what the candidates, both Democrat and Republican, are saying on issues we think Christians care about. … Last Saturday night, after the polls closed in South Carolina, I joined our friends at Focus on the Family Action in a live web cast discussion of the election returns. My comments about each of the presidential candidates were excerpted for home page clips on the Focus Action web site. The interpretation being given to those comments by some is just wrong. I have not endorsed any candidate for the White House and have no plans to do so.
They may deny that they are supporting Romney, but seeing as James Dobson and his ilk have already ruled out the possibility of supporting John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, and refuse to back Mike Huckabee, the process of elimination and their own rhetoric suggests that Romney is indeed their candidate of choice.

Some on Right Wary of Candidate Thompson

While Fred Thompson’s presumptive candidacy for president has been bolstered by right-wing activists dreaming of finding a perfect match in the “Law & Order” star, some in the conservative movement are taking a skeptical look at his political career, and chinks in his image are emerging to match those of the other leading Republican contenders.

First, James Dobson came out early on to say of Thompson that “I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression” (a statement he later tried to back away from). Then, a video clip from his Senate campaign was released in which he appears to show support for abortion rights. And the Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike down a provision of campaign finance reform – FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life -- reminded many anti-abortion activists of his critical role in passing the legislation that they strongly oppose, as well as his investigative subpoenas into the finances of interest groups, which raised hackles among religious-right groups targeted.

On Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reported that, when he worked as a lobbyist in Washington, Thompson took a job from a pro-choice group to convince the first Bush Administration to lift the “gag rule” on federally-funded clinics mentioning abortion. A former colleague called Thompson’s denial of pro-choice lobbying “absolutely bizarre.”

And yesterday, the Times reported more on right-wing outrage at Thompson during his campaign-reform days, not only from McCain-Feingold and his subpoenas – which James Bopp, a lawyer who represented the groups back then and who now works for Mitt Romney’s campaign, called an unconstitutional “fishing expedition” – but also for failing to dig up dirt on a supposed fundraising scandal involving President Clinton. Larry Klayman – founder of Judicial Watch and a key figure seeking Clinton’s impeachment -- put the Tennessee senator on a “wanted” poster.

Longtime conservative movement activist Richard Viguerie is calling on the Right to “Beware Fred Thompson”: “Fred Thompson plays a tough guy in the movies and on television, but in real life he is a marshmallow who would pose no threat to the Big Government Establishment that continues to dominate Washington.”

At the same time, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins has come to Thompson’s defense on the lobbying charge, and he received an enthusiastic response at a Young Republicans this weekend.

“With all the [candidates] who keep changing their minds on abortion, that's got to be unsettling,” Paul Weyrich said of these reports on Thompson and abortion. But Thompson’s star power and personality will likely allow him to keep pace with the other leading GOP candidates, who have their own issues with the finicky right-wing base. For example, while John McCain’s campaign reform work has apparently made him a permanent enemy of the Religious Right, former Sen. Rick Santorum said that he and others might forgive Thompson for the same because, unlike McCain, Thompson has not “made a career of poking conservative colleagues in the eye.”

Anti-Abortion Advocates Shun McCain over Campaign Finance Reform

Sen. John McCain “is far and away the most consistently anti-abortion of all the top contenders” for the Republican presidential ticket, according to Charlotte Allen in The

Weekly Standard, yet many anti-abortion advocates won’t have any truck with him. “The aversion to McCain is often visceral,” wrote Fred Barnes recently in the same magazine, citing James Dobson’s promise never to support McCain. Allen reports that McCain’s far-right position on abortion has, for some anti-abortion activists, taken a back seat to his legislation on campaign finance:

McCain has a major problem with the nation's largest and most influential anti-abortion advocacy organization, the National Right to Life Committee. And the source of that problem is . . . not abortion at all. It's the McCain-Feingold Act, that set of restrictions on political advertising during election seasons that McCain (along with a number of Democrats) started pushing in 1995 and succeeded in enacting into federal law in 2002.

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) regards McCain-Feingold as a major hindrance to its mission of pro-life advocacy--and, pari passu, McCain himself as something close to a personal enemy. A so-far-successful constitutional challenge to a key portion of McCain-Feingold mounted by an NRLC affiliate, Wisconsin Right to Life, is pending in the Supreme Court, with oral argument set for Wednesday, April 25.

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