This is a shocker to me. Apparently tomorrow the National Right to Life Committee will endorse Fred Thompson. I have confirmation from a member of the committee. And, apparently, they are moving quickly to try to stop Rudy Giuliani.

There are several frames to look at this through:

  • What this means for the pro-life movement in the US.
  • The politics of the conservative movement.
  • The mechanics of implementing the endorsement

Last week, Fred Thompson appeared to have messed up pretty-badly with the pro-life movement. He came out in opposition to the Human Life Amendment. He didn’t score any of the big social conservative/religious right endorsements last week. But tomorrow, he gets NRLC. My understanding is that the internal debate revolved around (1) stopping Rudy and (2) whether Mike Huckabee was an acceptable endorsement either together or separately. My understanding is, additionally, that John McCain and Mitt Romney were deemed not acceptable because of their positions on stem cell research. But it is news in its own right that an anti-HLA candidate is NRLC material.

There are several very important things to realize about a NRLC endorsement: First, it comes with juice. They have money. They have bodies. They do mail. They do phones. They do election-day volunteers. They will electioneer, and they will electioneer to win. If they are endorsing Fred Thompson, it means that they actually intend him to win the nomination.

To win, they have a problem. Fred is in 3rd or 4th or 5th in Iowa. He is in single-digits in New Hampshire. NRLC is going to have to rip through a whole bunch of people above him. And, unlike most conservative, groups, they don’t just attack on their issue. In 2000, they attacked McCain over campaign finance, even though he was, arguably, more pro-life than George Bush.

It has been conventional wisdom for a while that Romney and Thompson are fighting over the same voters. You can expect the mailboxes and phones of those voters to light up with detailed explanations of why Mitt Romney is not the right man to be president, or at least our nominee. From a very credible outside group. I have long asked who is actually going to attack Romney. We have our answer. In the end, this will move numbers.

On a deeper level, though, one wonders if this is a split in the conservative movement. With so many people going so many different ways, a shatter seems inevitable. There are a number of endorsements left, but you almost wonder if this is a direct challenge to James Dobson. Does Dobson dare to come out now, challenging NRLC and setting up a deep split? After all, Dobson actually can move votes and money, as can NRLC. But if the ultimate goal is to stop Rudy, then perhaps they need, at least, implicit agreement.

The other question is what happens if Romney really fights for this turf. Can he undermine the interest groups? Can he go back to his pragmatic self after his strange rightward lurch.

How this plays out will be interesting.


4 Comments

Rachel · November 12, 2007 at 7:09 PM

I am shocked that this shocks you.

There really was no one else. Romney is simply not believeable, Huckabee is not viable and McCain is their enemy.

As for the HLA, Fred has clarified what he said on Russert’s show.

At a campaign stop in South Carolina, Thompson indicated that he had given Russert’s question more thought and sought to clarify his position. “I can run on the Republican Platform. … I have a different priority in terms of how to achieve the same objective. I think Roe v. Wade should be changed with good judges following the law. … [E]ven when Republicans had control of the Senate, we could not move that (constitutional amendment) forward.”

This pro-life voter will support Thompson in every way possible.

Winghunter · November 13, 2007 at 12:51 AM

Fred has been invoking the word and concept of Federalism since even before he officially announced. If anyone didn’t know what he was talking about, it was readily available on the net and he has his own definition of it on his official website; http://www.fred08.com. He also discussed the wrongheadedly and potentially dangerous idea ( or thunk ) of amending our Constitution.

Unfortunately, it’s obvious our pro-life leadership was too busy for the last eight months doing something else. Why else wouldn’t they have a clue what Fred has been saying all this time…I’m sorry but, it’s just mental midgetry at its lowest.

Thankfully, someone was listening at the NRLC. They not only listened but, also understood the man actually knows how to get things done in Washington and his intent while there is to straighten out several messes. In fact, he had said earlier that one of the reasons he left the senate was because the things that needed changing couldn’t be accomplished by a senator. I think we better start praying very hard that Fred gets that chance or we’re all up the creek without a paddle…he’s the only one running that’s really looking out for us where he’s not in it for himself.

The amount of drool I’ve personally seen by a long list of these running mouths who are supposed to have a clue who started piling on Fred immediately after the Russert interview absolutely stunned me. Several pro-life blogs, Cliff Kincaid amongst other knotheads who were whining at the top of their lungs Fred was “pro-abortion”.

I’ll be demanding that they apologize for having a lobotomy half completed but, I’m not naive enough to think it’ll arrive in this century. Frankly, it disgusts me to watch otherwise Conservatives react like a bunch of emotional LibProgs.

FullosseousFlap's Dental Blog · November 12, 2007 at 5:28 PM

Fred Thompson Watch: National Right To Life Committee to Endorse Thompson…

Republican presidential hopeful, former Tenn. Sen. Fred Thompson, talks to reporters after speaking to local residents during a stop at the Uncommon Grounds coffee house Monday, Nov. 12, 2007, in Indianola, Iowa
Just when Mitt Romney gains momentum, F…

NLRC to endorse Thompson in direct challenge to Dr. Dobson—big-huge-giant loser: Team Romney « who is willard milton romney? · November 12, 2007 at 9:24 PM

[…] eye of eyeon08.com, OTOH, speculates on the meaning of the endorsement itself in a post titled NRLC goes with Fred Thompson … It has been conventional wisdom for a while that Romney and Thompson are fighting over the same voters. You can expect the mailboxes and phones of those voters to light up with detailed explanations of why Mitt Romney is not the right man to be president, or at least our nominee. From a very credible outside group. I have long asked who is actually going to attack Romney. We have our answer. In the end, this will move numbers. […]

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