Conservatives generally agree that Romney's credentials as a conservative are questionable. Rick Santorum
hinged his presidential nomination campaign on the widespread conviction among religious conservatives that Romney does not represent their constituency.
But now that Romney has won the Republican Party presidential nomination, religious conservatives are faced with a stark choice between the lesser of two evils — a Mormon and a Marxist. Romney, aware of the lukewarm attitude of religious conservatives to his candidacy, chose Paul Ryan to swing religious conservatives in his favor.
Schultheis, writing in Politico
, spoke to a few religious conservatives to gauge the current of feelings in religious conservative circles. Dolores Taylor, 69, of West Harrison, N.Y., explained why she will vote Romney: “It’s not excitement, it is fear — fear of the other guy. Excited doesn’t seem to be the right word — I’d say energized, because I’m so angry about what’s going on.”
What makes Taylor and many other religious conservatives so angry with Obama that they would rather vote for Romney? The concerns of religious conservatives are primarily social and cultural issues related to their religious beliefs
: Obama supports abortion. Obama supports gay marriage. Obama will take our guns from us. His administration has not given unconditional support to the State of Israel as Biblical prophecy driven view of foreign policy recommends.
JB Willians, writing in Conservative Crusader
, summarizes other related key issues religious conservatives and their allies are concerned about, the stuff of which their fear of Obama is made:
"Barack Hussein Obama is foreign born, period.
Regardless of his birth place, his parents had foreign loyalties
He has foreign loyalties, demonstrated in every policy decision
He’s not Christian, but Muslim."
reports that Jackie Lewis, a conservative woman from Ashburn, Va., agrees with Taylor that she is supporting Romney because of what she describes as a "total fear" of Obama. She exclaims: “We can’t take four more years of this."
reports that "fear" of a second term for Obama was "centerpiece " of the Values Voter Summit
, a "confab of social conservatives a little less than two months before the election." Romney's uneasy relations with the religious conservative base of the Republican Party was reflected in the fact that he did not attend the conference. But his running mate, Paul Ryan, a staunch conservative and dedicated anti-abortion rights lawmaker, attended.
According to Politico
, conservatives attending the conference expressed freely their fears about "Obama II," which include "implementation of the president’s health care law, and a move to what they saw as more 'socialist' policies to the end of the very (social and cultural) values that they came to the summit to support."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), reportedly summed up the religious conservative fear of "Obama II," saying that a second term for America's first "Marxist" president would "continue the decline of America." He said: “This election is going to determine whether or not the very moral fabric of our country will be upheld, or whether it will be torn apart."
The reader should note, carefully, that Cantor said the "moral fabric," and not the "economic fabric" of the nation, was threatened by Obama's presidency.
America's value voters: The economy vs. social issues
reports the growing concern in Republican circles that the main thrust of the campaign policy which focuses on the weak performance of the economy under Obama's administration, does not seem to be working. The Inquirer
comments on the growing frustration among GOP strategists:
"Republican activists are incredulous: Why can't Republican Mitt Romney seem to break open a tight race with President Barack Obama given the nation's sluggish economy and conservative enthusiasm to beat the Democrat?
"'He ought to be killing Obama, and he's clearly not doing that,' said 32-year-old R.J. Robinson, one of the thousands of activists attending the annual Values Voters Summit this weekend. 'He should be doing better.'"
also reports the growing disillusionment with the strategic thinking that the campaign should focus on criticizing Obama's economic record. According to BuzzFeed
: "Rep. Paul Ryan has spent a week road-testing alternatives, going positive and going negative, swinging at the president on everything from faith to foreign policy."
A top Romney aide, reportedly said: “No one in Boston thinks this can only be about the economy anymore. The economy narrows the gap and puts us in contention, but we have to bring more to the table.”
The recent Values Voter Summit
reflects the main thrust of the effort to "bring more to the table" and fire the Republican Party's voter base, consisting largely of religious conservatives (so-called "values voters" ), by shifting focus from the economy to social and cultural issues. Focusing on the economy has failed to fire up values voters who form a significant portion of the party's voter base because so far, besides empty rhetoric and vague promises, Romney and his team have not articulated a convincing alternative path to the Obama administration's for the national economy.
According to BuzzFeed
, the failure of the dismal August job report to bring a decisive change in favor of Romney was the final observation that convinced the Romney campaign it should reach for a new strategy approach. Digital Journal's
Yukio Strachan reports that the latest New York Times
/CBS News Poll
shows Americans have not been successfully won over by the Romney campaign's message that "the economy stinks and it's Mr. Obama's fault." According to Strachan
, "47 percent of those surveyed [say] the president was able to do a better job with the economy and create jobs, versus 46 percent who picked Romney."
quotes The New York Times
: "Both Democrats and Republicans say Obama has gained an advantage on the economy in part because Romney hasn't laid out specific plans for what he would do differently."
One thing appears clear: It isn't enough for the Romney campaign to criticize the performance of the Obama administration's economic policy; it is equally important for it to convince Americans that the Romney-Ryan ticket has the right answers. Critics say that so far, Romney has only accused Obama's administration of ruining the economy, he has not explained what to do to fix it.
If Romney would continue maintaining silence about specific details of his alternative economic plan, he is left with no choice but to shift focus to cultural and social issues; play to the gallery of fear that motivates religious conservatives and their right wing allies, because under the circumstances, it appears that his chances at the general election will be determined not by his ability to win independent voters but by his ability to mobilize the religious conservative base of his party to turn out to vote.