Pat Robertson and Sam Brownback
Today was a big day for political endorsements. Two conservative heavyweights weighed in, and in this political referee’s humble opinion it was a split decision.
In one corner, we have Sam Brownback, former Presidential candidate, current Senator and future Governor of Kansas and in the other is Pat Robertson, former Presidential candidate and founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and the Christian Coalition. Both are huge stars on the socon stage.
First the good news: Sam Brownback did not endorse Rudy Giuliani. Now the bad news: Pat Robertson did. Amazing isn’t the word. Perhaps “shocking” would suffice.
Sam Brownback chose to endorse John McCain today (video at the link), citing the value of the “full package,” not a surprising choice given the current cast of candidates. John McCain, who had recently smoothed over a past prickly relationship with Robertson, reacted this way:
Asked about the Robertson endorsement, McCain, at a news conference with Brownback in Dubuque, Iowa, said: “Every once in a while, I’m left speechless. This is one of those times.”
Former Arkansas Governor and current Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was similarly surprised. Considering the liberal values that Giuliani admits to (pro-abortion, pro-gay, anti-gun), Robertson’s endorsement doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Unless perhaps crafty Pat thinks that it will alienate moderate Republicans who support Giuliani’s log cabin flavor of Republicanism. Pat’s no stranger to politics. Maybe he’s got a trick up his sleeve.
The former New York mayor backs abortion rights and gay rights, positions that put him in conflict with conservative GOP orthodoxy, and has been trying to persuade evangelical conservatives like Robertson to overlook their differences on those issues.
So the question is: how did he do it? And will he be able to fool other religious conservatives? Just how strong is Robertson’s support for Giuliani? Will he actually campaign for him? And why is he at odds with other evangelicals, such as Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, who pledged anybody but Rudy? Why, why, why?
Now back to Sam Brownback and the McCain endorsement. This isn’t really too surprising. Both are fellow Republican Senators and are good friends. McCain is tough on terror and pro-life. Brownback believes that McCain would nominate strict constructionists to the Supreme Court. Those are all positives for John McCain.
Compared to the other candidates who have enormous weaknesses in some areas, Giuliani and Romney on life and gay issues, and Ron Paul with his deplorable surrender strategy for the War on Terror, McCain has more pluses than minuses where it counts. At least that’s the way it appeared when Sam Brownback did the math.
He [Sam Brownback] certainly has several candidates he could chose from, to back, but the Senator says John McCain is the “full package,” from foreign policy to family values.
The Senator also respects John McCain’s military service. Of the front-runners McCain is the only one who actually volunteered to serve his country.
“Growing up on a farm in Kansas, you hear about people like John McCain. A prisoner of war, serving his country, putting his life on the line for the nation, and it’s the stuff that heroes are made of, and John McCain is a true American hero, and I don’t think we should look past that,” explained Brownback.
And John McCain has also hinted that there may be room for his friend in a McCain Administration. Interesting.
At one point John McCain used the term “running mate” to describe Brownback, but he later clarified that he has not picked him to be vice-presidential running mate, merely a campaign partner.
Still, McCain says if he wins, Brownback will serve as a key adviser on agriculture and the judiciary.
So the Brownback endorsement, if any was forthcoming, was predictable enough. The Robertson endorsement is an enigma. Would anyone care to explain it to me? Because if it’s not part of a larger strategy to get a true pro-life, pro-family social conservative the Republican nomination (which Giuliani most certainly is not), I don’t understand Robertson’s motivation here.