Republican presidential candidate John McCain received a cold reception at yesterday’s Conservative Political Action Conference. Speaking a few hours after Mitt Romney dropped out of the race, the crowd of right wingers offered some very vocal opposition to the Senator from Arizona.
What sounds like boos may be a Republican death rattle. And that rattle only grew louder this morning.
While McCain holds a sizable lead over Huckabee on a national level, the Vietnam War veteran faces an electoral void in the South, where Huckabee’s religious background appealed to pious voters. The turnout this Tuesday highlights the internal division within the Republican ranks – and those Evangelical leader James Dobson may only exasperate the problem.
Dobson, the Focus on the Family found who previously vowed never to vote for John McCain, has endorsed Mike Huckabee:
In a statement first obtained by The Associated Press, Dobson reiterated his declaration on Super Tuesday that he could not in good conscience vote for John McCain, the front-runner, because of concerns over the Arizona senator’s conservative credentials.
Dobson said given the situation at that point, he was reluctant to choose between “two pro-family candidates whom I could support” – Huckabee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
But Dobson wrote that Romney’s announcement Thursday that he was suspending his campaign “changed the political landscape.”
“he remaining candidate for whom I could vote is Governor Huckabee,” Dobson said. “His unwavering positions on the social issues, notably the institution of marriage, the importance of faith and the sanctity of human life, resonate deeply with me and with many others … Obviously, the governor faces an uphill struggle, given the delegates already committed to Senator McCain. Nevertheless, I believe he is our best remaining choice for president of the United States.”
Dobson’s statement may not take votes away from John McCain, but it will certainly influence a number of religious voters to sway to Huckabee.
Meanwhile, conservative pundits Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter promised they won’t vote for McCain. In fact, they’re both throwing their weight toward Hillary Clinton, a woman who’s long been anathema for the Republican party. Limbaugh’s even prepared to raise dough for the former First Lady:
After the withdrawal of Mitt Romney from the GOP race, Limbaugh said to his listeners, “might it be required (she’s having to loan herself money), do you think I should conduct a fundraiser for Mrs. Clinton? Mitt did his part today. He got out so as not to fracture the party any further and not to harm the effort to win the war in Iraq. Should I do my part, not by joining my liberal friends in the Republican Party, but actually raising money for Mrs. Clinton, and asking you to join me, so that she would have a chance here to once again have a good shot at getting a Democrat nomination so that we win the White House?”
Limbaugh seems to think that Republicans hate Hillary enough to unite the party. That may be true on some level, but Limbaugh’s forgetting that the Democrats have two powerful candidates, not just one. If Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama combined their power, they’d surely win the next election. Even if they don’t tag team our democracy, the fresh fissures in the Republican party certainly don’t bode well for the red staters.
As the Democrats rally around two strong candidates, the Republicans must make a soul-wrenching choice between the Baptist preacher man or the moderate conservative. Those odds don’t seem very good to us, but we’re not experts. So, readers, do you think the Republican party can survive this election cycle? Can they survive at all?