Religious Right Still Putting Heat on McCain, Romney

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Yesterday, James Dobson, the head of Focus on the Family, struck out against the candidacy of John McCain, in a statement sent to the Wall Street Journal. “I have seen no evidence that Sen. McCain is successfully unifying the Republican Party or drawing conservatives into his fold. To the contrary, he seems intent on driving them away,” he wrote.

Now, other social conservatives have launched a campaign to bury the vice presidential hopes of another prominent Republican candidate, Mitt Romney. The petition campaign can be found at It reads:

Republican Presidential Nominee, Senator John McCain:

We call upon you to reject any consideration of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as a Vice Presidential running mate. We further urge you to only consider for Vice President an individual with a strong and consistent record of support for both the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death, and the amendment of the U.S. Constitution to establish marriage as only between one man and one woman.

The site is sponsored by the Values Voter Coalition, a group that put on a spirited Republican candidate debate in September, which McCain, Romney, Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani chose to skip. The site also says it has been underwritten by the Government Is Not God PAC, a group led by William Murray, the chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition. The group is raising money for a planned full-page newspaper ad to tell McCain to not pick Romney.

Given the bad blood of the primary campaign, there is little risk of such a ticket. But something else is notable. Christian conservatives, who have never been very comfortable about McCain, do not appear ready to offer assent to McCain’s candidacy. They want what they don’t yet have, and may never get: A clear signal from McCain that he will address their concerns. As Dobson put it in his statement, “To my knowledge, [McCain] has not reached out to pro-family leaders or changed any of the positions that have troubled them.”