By Bryan Fischer
Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at “Focal Point”
There is no reason for Rick Santorum to drop out of the race for the GOP nomination. This is for one simple reason: this is his only shot at the crown.
If he can stage a dramatic come-from-behind win, he will give America its clearest choice between competing visions for America since 1984.
If he can't, there is virtually no way he will be the nominee in 2016. The GOP nominee in 2016 will almost certainly be a governor or former governor. Those who are thinking he should cash in now to position himself for another run in four years are simply mistaken. The field then will be crowded with candidates with executive experience (Rick Perry, Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal are just a few of the names that spring to mind), and Americans will be looking for someone with effective executive experience on his resume.
So this is it for Santorum. Do or die. He may as well throw everything he has into the breach for there is nothing to lose. His values message has kept him in the race despite being outspent by Romney anywhere from 4-1 (as in Wisconsin) to ten and even twelve to one in other states. There is no reason for him to take his foot off the gas now. It gives him what slender hope he has of overtaking Romney down the stretch.
If, for the sake of argument, Romney wins the nomination, social conservatives had better shift their intense focus to taking over the Senate and the House, as we will not have a reliable ally in the Oval Office no matter who wins in November. Obama will be an in-your-face adversary on social issues, and Romney will be a splintered reed on which to lean at best. He has, of course, been saying the right things on the campaign trail, but his record (as opposed to his rhetoric) is reason for grave concern.
He will certainly be a superior choice to Obama, who is not even pretending to believe the right things, and conservative voters who don’t want to throw their votes away will want to vote against Obama even if it they find it difficult to get enthused about voting for Romney. Romney will clearly be a less distasteful choice than the incumbent.
President Obama wins another four years, it will be absolutely imperative, if America is to have a future that even remotely resembles its founding, to have pro-values majorities in both houses to roadblock the disastrous policy proposals that the Obama administration belches forth on nearly a daily basis.
Absolute, utter, total gridlock will be our only hope.
If Romney wins, we will need majorities in both houses to get him to sign good legislation. Absent any core values other than flying with the jetstream, the man James Carville called a "serial windsock" will sign any legislation that he thinks is personally advantageous to his political fortunes. So conservatives will need to make it as easy as possible for him to do the right thing. We cannot count on him to do it out of principle, but we can count on him to do it out of political expediency.
If Romney is the nominee, Barack Obama will be the odds-on favorite win another term in the White House. Polls already show dismal unfavorability numbers for Romney, and show Obama with significant leads in almost all the swing states. Romney's unfavorability ratings are essentially the same this year as they were in 2008, an indication he simply has trouble connecting with voters of any stripe. Joe Scarborough said on his “Morning Joe” program this morning that he does not know of a single ruling-class Republican who thinks Romney has a ghost of a chance in November.
In particular, Romney is upside down by double digits with independents and moderates, which pretty much shreds the ruling-class Republican argument about electability to pieces.
If Obama wins on November 6, it might behoove pro-family leaders to meet with Rick Perry on November 7 and start strategizing for 2016.
Romney has prevailed thus far in the GOP race by outspending his opposition by anywhere between 400% and 1000%, and has spent the bulk of that on negative ads, which are effective if the opponent doesn’t have enough money to counterpunch. That advantage vanishes in the general, and in fact will be reversed. Obama is sitting right now on $84 million while Romney has a measly $7 million on hand.
And Mormonism has yet to be a significant issue in the race. Maureen Dowd of the New York Times has taken a snarky crack at him (even talking about the "magic underwear"), and a leading columnist in the UK has said his view of American history (does he believe that America was settled by the ten lost tribes and Jesus paid them a visit?) is fair game. That was it until last night, when Lawrence O’Donnell accused Romney of believing in a religion that was invented to justify adultery. He reminded viewers of the awkward truth that the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, had no less than 48 wives.
But should he get the nomination, the out-of-the-mainstream media will beat Romney about the head and shoulders with every unusual thing Mormons have ever believed or done. God lives near the planet Kolob? Check. God was once a man just like you and me? Check. There is a Heavenly Mother as well as a Heavenly Father? Check. Jesus is the brother of Satan? Check. Jesus was a man who became a god rather than God who became man? Check. The black race was under the curse of Ham until 1978? Check. America was settled by the ten lost tribes of Israel? Check. Jesus was conceived through an act of physical intercourse between Elohim and Mary? Check. Jesus visited North America after his resurrection to evangelize the ten lost tribes? Check. Jesus’ Second Coming will be to Independence, Missouri? Check. Get ready for it, because it will be Mormonism 24-7.
Concerned evangelicals won't need to say a word about LDS theology. The New York Times, the Washington Post, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and the rest will make sure that every voter in America knows these things. And Gov. Romney will not be able to dodge questions about these matters as he did at yesterday's town hall meeting in Green Bay, because it will be the press asking these questions, not Ron Paul surrogates.
Most Americans will find these views unusual at best. To pretend that this will not be a serious factor in the race is to be fatally naive about the determination of the Ministers of Propaganda in the mainstream media to do all that is in their power to return Obama to the most powerful office in the world. They will stop at nothing and resort to anything to get that done.
Despite the significant differences between LDS theology and historic Christian orthodoxy, Christians and Mormons have often worked together where we share values that affect public policy.
For instance, we have worked quite happily with the Mormon church to protect the institution of marriage, because we share a common conviction that this is best and right for America.
I worked closely with good Mormon friends in 2006 to pass Idaho's marriage amendment, and a member of the LDS church served on the board of the pro-family organization I led there.
But regardless of how kind we evangelicals are toward our Mormon friends about these differences in theology, the media has no reason whatsoever to show the same courtesy.
As a matter of fact, I have often said that my main problem with Gov. Romney is not that he is a Mormon but that he has not been Mormon enough, particularly on the sanctity of life and sanctity of marriage.
The LDS church has always had a consistent stand on these issues of fundamental importance, but Gov. Romney campaigned on a pro-abortion platform in 2002 and imposed same-sex marriage on Massachusetts and the United States by executive fiat in 2004. And while he claimed to have had a pro-life conversion in 2005, in 2006 he pushed through RomneyCare, which offers the cheapest taxpayer-subsidized abortions in America and requires that a spot on a state board be reserved for a representative of Planned Parenthood. This naturally raises serious questions about the depth of his conversion to a pro-life point of view.
And he has not been Mormon enough on public policy in general. One of the best publications I have ever read on public policy, "The Proper Role of Government," was written by a Mormon, Ezra Taft Benson. That publication should be required reading for every American. It's a shame that Gov. Romney has either ignored it or never read it.
In other words, I would have far fewer problems with Gov. Romney if he had been more Mormon in his public life, not less.
The old media by and large have gone easy on Romney about Mormonism to this point, but that's only because they want to keep their powder dry. They don't want to kneecap him over Mormonism until he becomes the nominee. They want Romney to be the guy running against Obama, because they believe he will be easier to beat, and are fairly salivating at the chance to insert his theology into the center of the race.
As the Lawrence O’Donnell segment attests, now that the media believe him to be the presumptive nominee after last night’s primary, the gloves are off. And there are no Marquis of Queensbury rules to stop them from delivering low blows and punching after the bell.
All of which means that the focus and energy of the pro-family movement needs to shift immediately to getting the Senate in the hands of pro-family leaders and preserving pro-family leadership in the House. Even if Santorum should pull things out, it will still be necessary if he is to have any meaningful social legislation to sign.
Bottom line: taking control of the Senate and preserving control of the House has now become job one. Time to get cracking.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)