Saturday, October 20, 2007

Takes some guts for The Tennessean to publish this

No GOP candidate unites conservatives, Republicans come to Values Summit

WASHINGTON— Conservative Christian voters are unlikely to rally around a single Republican candidate, leaders of the movement said Friday at a conference intended in part to promote unity heading into the primary season.

"There is no one person head and shoulders above the rest," said Gary Bauer, head of American Values, at the Values Voter Summit his group co-sponsored.

All the GOP candidates were to speak at the conference, including the four leading contenders, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney; Sen. John McCain of Arizona; and former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee.

Bauer said leaders of the main social conservative groups would meet at the end of the conference this weekend and would be released to endorse any candidate they want. Until now, those leaders have avoided explicit endorsement, hoping to settle on one candidate. But that effort, Bauer said, has been "like herding cats."

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, the lead sponsor of the event, declined to comment on the meeting but said he expected no one candidate to emerge from the conference, which features about 2,300 delegates.

Attendees and people who have signed up online will vote for their favorite presidential candidate during a straw poll Saturday afternoon.

McCain sought support by arguing that he was the only candidate who has been anti-abortion his entire public career.

"I know you might not always agree with me on every issue, but I hope you know I'm not going to con you," McCain said. Many conservatives dislike him because of the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform law that restricted advocacy by interest groups close to Election Day.

Thompson said in his first hour as president he would pray for wisdom.

Many conservative Christian leaders, including Perkins, say they will not back Giuliani, even if he wins the GOP nomination, because of his support for abortion rights. But polls show, and interviews of delegates confirm, that Giuliani has support among some conservative Christians. They like his strong stand against terrorism and would prefer any Republican to a Democrat.

"Giuliani on his worst day would be better than Hillary (Clinton) on her best day," said Burke Miller of Houston.

See a funny video clip at Why is Freddie not talking about social issues like he's supposed to? Why is he playing with his water?