NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Three former Southern Baptist Convention presidents announced their support for Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee Nov. 9, capping a week that saw several contenders receive endorsements from various social conservatives.
James (Jimmy) T. Draper Jr., Jack Graham and Jerry Vines all said they were supporting Huckabee, a fellow Southern Baptist and former president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Draper and Vines served as president of the SBC during the 1980s and played key roles in returning the denomination to its orthodox roots. Graham served as president of the SBC from 2003-05.
Each man’s endorsement came as a private citizen.
“Mike Huckabee is clearly the most articulate spokesman for conservative values in today’s political arena,” Graham was quoted as saying in a release from the Huckabee campaign. “He is a wise and proven leader. He is a man who lives and governs by principal and is, in my view, uniquely prepared to lead our nation.”
Said Draper, “I support Mike Huckabee for President because I have known him for over 30 years and know him to be a man of absolute integrity and sterling character. He has the strength of convictions that will enable him to be a great leader.”
Said Vines, “Having known Governor Mike Huckabee for 30 years and observed his character, convictions and courage in public life, I wholeheartedly endorse him in his bid to become President of the United States.”
Graham serves as pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. Draper is the immediate past president of LifeWay Christian Resources. Vines is pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.
Jay Strack of Student Leadership University and Billy McCormack, one of the early leaders for the Christian Coalition when it was founded, also announced their support for Huckabee. McCormack currently is pastor of University Baptist Church in Shreveport, La.
But they weren’t the only endorsements for Huckabee. One of the bigger catches of the week for the campaign was American Family Association founder Don Wildmon, who said that while he does not agree with the former Arkansas governor on “100 percent” of the issues, Huckabee nevertheless “shares our values” and “has the skills to bring us together.”
Additionally, Liberty Counsel founder Mathew Staver and Charisma magazine founder Stephen Strang announced they were endorsing Huckabee.
As previously reported in Baptist Press, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Daniel Akin also is backing Huckabee.
Among other recent major endorsements by social conservatives of other candidates:
— The National Right to Life Committee will announce Tuesday its endorsement of Fred Thompson, GOP sources told the Associated Press.
— Paul M. Weyrich, chairman of the Free Congress Foundation, said Nov. 5 he is supporting Mitt Romney.
— U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback said Nov. 7 he is backing John McCain.
— Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition, made a surprise endorsement of Rudy Giuliani Nov. 7, disappointing at least some conservative leaders. Giuliani supports abortion rights. Randy Thomasson, president of the Campaign for Children and Families, said Robertson was “leading pro-family voters astray by abandoning moral standards for government” and was casting a blind eye” to Giuliani’s “big-time advocacy of the transsexual, bisexual, and homosexual agenda.”
KUCINICH ONCE PRO-LIFE — Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich gets attention for his sometimes far-left views, but in the not-too-distant past he was an ally of conservatives on at least one issue — abortion.
Kucinich, who represents an Ohio district in the U.S. House of Representatives, called himself pro-life as recently as 2001, and even got a 95 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee in 2000, according to an article on National Review’s website. He supported a ban on partial-birth abortion and opposed allowing abortions on overseas military bases. In 1996 he even said, “I believe that life begins at conception.”
But he changed positions before he ran for president in 2004 as a staunch anti-war Democrat, and he’s running as a pro-choice advocate once more. When running for re-election for Congress last year he even said that “only those who agree to uphold Roe v. Wade should be nominated for the Supreme Court.”
“It was long before I ran for president the first time that I came to an understanding of how this issue was tearing America apart and how it’s possible to simultaneously stand for a woman’s right to choose and, at the same time, work to make abortions less likely,” he said on PBS’ “NewsHour” in October.
IOWA POLL SHOWS VOLATILE RACE — With the Iowa caucuses only weeks away, the latest Zogby poll shows Mitt Romney leading the Republicans and Hillary Clinton the Democrats.
Zogby’s poll of 410 likely GOP voters has Romney in first at 31 percent, Mike Huckabee second (15 percent), Rudy Giuliani third (11 percent), Fred Thompson fourth (10 percent) and John McCain fifth (8 percent).
The poll of 502 likely Democratic voters places Clinton in first at 28 percent, Barack Obama second at 25 percent and John Edwards third at 21 percent.
The GOP poll was conducted Nov. 6-7, the Democratic one Nov. 6.
The Iowa caucuses are scheduled to be held Jan. 3.
Michael Foust is assistant editor of Baptist Press.