COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (BP)–Focus on the Family founder James Dobson endorsed Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee Feb. 7, giving the former Arkansas governor a boost heading into a series of upcoming primaries.
The endorsement by Dobson came the same day that Mitt Romney withdrew from the GOP race. Huckabee won five states on Super Tuesday and still trails by a wide margin in the delegate count, although he hopes to win a handful of states in the next week, including Kansas and Louisiana Saturday and Virginia Tuesday.
Dobson’s endorsement, which came as a private citizen, came two days after he once again said he would not support frontrunner John McCain if he is the nominee. Dobson first made the statement in January 2007 during the “Jerry Johnson Live” radio program hosted by Johnson, president of Criswell College in Dallas.
Romney’s withdrawal, Dobson said, made it possible for him publicly to back Huckabee. He had been “reluctant,” he said, to choose between Romney and Huckabee, both of whom he found acceptable.
“The remaining candidate for whom I could vote is Gov. Huckabee. His unwavering positions on the social issues, notably the institution of marriage, the importance of faith and the sanctity of human life, resonate deeply with me and with many others,” Dobson said. “That is why I will support Gov. Huckabee through the remaining primaries, and will vote for him in the general election if he should get the nomination. Obviously, the governor faces an uphill struggle, given the delegates already committed to Sen. McCain. Nevertheless, I believe he is our best remaining choice for President of the United States.”
Dobson said McCain’s “record on the institution of the family and other conservative issues” prevents him from supporting the senator from Arizona. It is a matter of “conscience,” Dobson said.
McCain has a mixed record on issues important to social conservatives. He has a consistent pro-life record on abortion and, according to his website, opposes both therapeutic and reproductive cloning, but he supports embryonic stem cell research. He taped television advertisements supporting a constitutional marriage amendment in Arizona but opposes a federal marriage amendment. He has supported conservative justices over the years — including Samuel Alito and John Roberts — but he drew the ire of conservatives in 2005 by joining what was called the “Gang of 14,” a group of Democratic and Republican senators who reached a compromise on judicial nominees.
McCain tried to appeal to concerned conservatives Thursday when he spoke to a prominent conservative organization known as CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference. Introduced by two senators who back his nomination, Sam Brownback and Tom Coburn, McCain said he has a 24-year-long pro-life record.
“I intend to nominate judges who have proven themselves worthy of our trust that they take as their sole responsibility the enforcement of laws made by the people’s elected representatives — judges of the character and quality of Justices Roberts and Alito, judges who can be relied upon to respect the values of the people whose rights, laws and property they are sworn to defend.”
Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, McCain said, would nominate justices “who are intent on achieving political changes that the American people cannot be convinced to accept through the election of their representatives.”
The Supreme Court likely will be a major issue in the general election. Two of the court’s most liberal justices — John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg — also are its two oldest members. Stevens is 87, Ginsburg 74. Both support Roe v. Wade.
Compiled by Michael Foust, assistant editor of Baptist Press.