According to a story published by Politico, a coterie of influential Christian Republicans has been invited to a confab next weekend at the Texas ranch of Paul Pressler. The invitation to the conference was reprinted by Politico:
You and your spouse are cordially invited to a private meeting with national conservative leaders of faith at the ranch of Paul and Nancy Pressler near Brenham, Texas, with the purpose of attempting to unite and to come to a consensus on which Republican presidential candidate or candidates to support, or which not to support.
Those reportedly set to accept the invitation include James Dobson (founder of Focus on the Family, now head of Family Talk), Don Wildmon (American Family Association), Gary Bauer (American Values), Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, Christian Zionist leader John Hagee of San Antonio, and Kelly Shackelford of the Plano-based Liberty Institute (the Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family).
Notably, several of those whose presence is requested at the meeting are members of the Arlington Group, a secretive coalition of movers and shakers in the religious-right stake of the big Republican tent.
While the membership of the Arlington Group may be a secret, it is no secret why that organization would oppose the ascension of Mitt Romney to the leadership of their party. Romney is a practicing Mormon and a practicing moderate — two traits absolutely unacceptable to the fundamentalists gathering at the Pressler ranch.
Despite this elite claque’s obvious anti-Mormon, anti-moderate bias, Gary Bauer told Politico that “the meeting was entirely aimed at finding consensus behind one Republican and not part of any Stop Mitt movement. There’s only one person I’m interested in stopping and that’s Barack Obama,” said Bauer. So adamant is Bauer in his assessment of the true goal of the get-together, he promised Politico that “if there are any signs that the meeting will be focused on an effort to defeat Romney, he’ll withdraw from being involved.”
After his virtual tie with Romney in the Iowa Caucus, former Pennsylvania Senator (and practicing Catholic) Rick Santorum has positioned himself as an alternative to Romney. Given the number of evangelical Christians who typically participate in the Iowa caucuses, Santorum may appeal to that band of the Republican spectrum in a way Romney never will.
The prospects are dim for Republicans who believe that the answer to the big-government, hawkish, crony capitalist currently occupying the White House is another big-government, hawkish, crony capitalist, only one with an R after his name.
As Politico described the situation:
On Tuesday night, a prominent Iowa conservative, Bob Vander Platts, called on Republicans to unite behind Santorum in hopes of stopping Romney. Vander Platts, who has backed Santorum, suggested Gingrich should reassess his candidacy.
If Republicans are going to put up a “pro-family conservative against Mitt Romney, some decisions need to be made,” the former gubernatorial candidate told reporters at a Santorum rally.
Typically, neither the Politico article nor the establishment Republicans quoted in it mention the fact that there is a Republican candidate for President who consistently demonstrates the practice and promotion of traditional family values ostensibly held so dear by the right wing of that party. That man is Dr. Ron Paul, Congressman from Texas.
Of course, contrary to their love of life and liberty, the members of this cabal and others like it advocate an aggressive and interventionist foreign policy, including the protraction of the war in Afghanistan and the prosecution of hostilities in Iran and Syria.
Rick Perry would seem the natural choice for this bloc, but after a dismal performance in Iowa, it may be that the monied interests that were funding his campaign are searching for a new star to which to hitch their wagon.
Photo of Gary Bauer: AP Images