Some of the
nation's most politically influential conservative
Christians, alarmed by the prospect of a Republican
presidential nominee who supports abortion rights, are
considering backing a third-party candidate.
More than 40
Christian conservatives attended a meeting Saturday in Salt
Lake City to discuss the possibility, and planned more
gatherings on how they should move forward, according
to Richard A. Viguerie, a direct-mail expert and
longtime conservative activist.
who supports abortion rights and gay rights, leads in
national polls of the Republican presidential candidates.
Campaigning in New Jersey on Monday, Giuliani brushed
aside talk of an upstart effort by religious
''I'm working on
one party right now -- the Republican Party,'' Giuliani
said. ''I believe we are reaching out very, very well to
Republicans. The emphasis is on fiscal conservatism,
which brings Republicans together.''
participants in the meeting included James Dobson, founder
of the Focus on the Family evangelical ministry in
Colorado Springs, Colo., and, according to Viguerie,
Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, a
conservative policy group in Washington, D.C.
the meeting but is not yet participating in any planning
for a third party, said Gary Schneeberger, a spokesman for
Focus on the Family Action. Dobson and others spoke
out against the idea at the meeting, even though both
major parties could nominate candidates who back
abortion rights and other policies that conservative
Christians oppose, Schneeberger said.
A spokesman for
Perkins did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
not give specifics of the proposal or reveal additional
names of participants but said President Bush ''would not
have been elected in '04 without the people in that
''There is such
jaundiced feelings about any promises or commitments from
any Republican leaders,'' he said in a phone interview.
''You could almost cut the anger and the frustration
with a knife in that room it's so strong. Because they
don't know what else to do, they're talking third
A spokesman for
the Republican National Committee did not respond to a
request for comment.
were in Salt Lake City for a separate meeting of the
secretive Council for National Policy, a group of
conservative business, religious, and political
leaders that was cofounded years ago by Tim LaHaye,
author of the ''Left Behind'' series of books. Vice
President Dick Cheney flew into the city Friday to
address the group, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
conservatives, who hold considerable sway in the Republican
Party, have been deeply unhappy about the field of GOP
Dobson has said
he wouldn't support Giuliani, calling the former New York
City mayor an ''unapologetic supporter of abortion on
demand.'' Dobson has also rejected former Tennessee
senator Fred Thompson as wrong on social issues, and
wouldn't back John McCain because of the Arizona
senator's opposition to a constitutional amendment banning
conservatives ''are still open'' to former Massachusetts
governor Mitt Romney but said, ''we haven't seen anything
that guarantees that he will hold to the positions
that he's articulating.'' Romney has been questioned
about his record on gay rights.
proposal to consider a third-party candidate comes from
anger that the Republicans whom Christians have helped elect
for decades have failed to act on policy issues
important to evangelicals such as abortion,
same-sex marriage, and school prayer.
have been treated like a mistress as long as any of us
can remember,'' Viguerie said. ''They'll have lots of
private meetings with us, tell us how much they
appreciate it and how much they value us, but if you
see me on the street please don't speak with me.''
A third-party run
would be a long shot, requiring millions of dollars and
challenges to ballot access. Such a bid could prove
disastrous for the GOP by splitting the vote.
head of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist
Convention, was not at the meeting. But he said no one
floating the idea of a third party thinks there's much
chance the candidate would win. He considers the
proposal a reaction to ''moguls of the Republican
establishment'' who think conservative Christians will
support the GOP no matter what.
''A lot of them
won't hold their nose and do it,'' Land said. (AP)