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Republicans: Obama must defend Christian values

By
From page C2 | June 22, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — Leading Republicans on Thursday insisted that America’s leaders must do more to defend Christian values at home and abroad, blaming President Barack Obama for attacks on religious freedom as they courted social conservatives expected to play a critical role in the next presidential contest.

“Those of us inspired by Judeo-Christian values … have an obligation to our country and to our fellow man to use our positions of influence to highlight those values,” Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio said at a conference hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group led by long-time Christian political activist Ralph Reed.

Rubio, the first of several prospective Republican presidential candidates scheduled to speak, charged that Obama’s policies “completely ignore the importance of families and values on our society, thinking that instead those things can be replaced by laws and government programs.”

Organizers said more than 1,000 evangelical leaders are attending the conference, designed to mobilize religious conservative voters ahead of the upcoming midterm elections and the 2016 presidential contest. While polls suggest that social conservatives are losing their fight against gay marriage, Republican officials across the political spectrum concede that evangelical Christian voters continue to play a critical role in Republican politics.

“You can ignore them, but you do so at our own peril,” said Republican operative Hogan Gidley, who has worked for former presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.

In the 2012 general election, exit polls showed that white evangelical and born-again Christians made up 26 percent of the electorate. The group has far more power in lower turnout Republican primary elections.

This week’s conference highlights the balancing act leading Republicans face as they work to bridge internal divisions and improve the Republican Party’s image. While religious conservatives continue to wield influence in the GOP, just last year the Republican National Committee released an exhaustive report calling on Republicans to adopt an “inclusive and welcoming” tone on divisive social issues.

“The Republican Party has given up on even trying to change. They’re not even pretending anymore,” Democratic National Committee chairman Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said in a conference call shortly before the conference began. “They’ve given up on any attempt to rebrand or reach out to new voters — and in many cases they’ve moved in the opposite direction.”

“It’s clear that the GOP has redefined the far right,” she continued.

There was little talk of abortion or gay marriage on the main stage in the conservative conference on Thursday, however. Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz largely sidestepped direct mention of lightning-rod issues in favor of less-controversial themes.

Cruz highlighted what he called failures in the Obama administration that allowed attacks on Christians abroad, particularly in the escalating violence across Iraq.

“Christians are being persecuted in stunning numbers. They are being stoned. They are being tortured,” Cruz said, calling for Obama to stand up for Christians in prison in Iran and Sudan. “We need leadership in America.”

The speaking program that will continue Friday and Saturday with several more potential presidential contenders, including staunch social conservatives Santorum and Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor. But even those GOP White House hopefuls considered more mainstream oppose gay marriage and abortion rights, including funding for Planned Parenthood, among other social conservative priorities.

That group includes New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is scheduled to deliver his first major address to evangelical voters Friday, along with Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. Also on the program is a libertarian favorite, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who personally opposes gay marriage and abortion rights but suggests that the GOP should downplay its focus on social issues.

Among the early 2016 favorites, only former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is not on the agenda, although he addressed the same group last year. He cited a scheduling conflict.

“This is the most conservative, the most pro-life and the most pro-family stable of candidates we’ve ever had,” Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition, told The Associated Press in an interview. “Not only do you not have someone running who’s socially moderate to liberal that we can see so far, but you have a lot of people who are going to run who are actually champions on these issues.”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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Discussion | 10 comments

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  • rlw895June 22, 2014 - 6:54 am

    None of those guys will win the Republican nomination.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagJune 22, 2014 - 10:43 am

    I agree with you except for Cruz they are all to far to the left... lol

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJune 22, 2014 - 7:09 am

    At this moment there is not one viable candidate from the GOP. If Romney decides to run he is their best and only possible chance. Not sure why Jeb would step back? He would be their second best option. As a Democrat, either of these two getting the nomination is worrisome for me. Many of our voters in this country don't have the good sense to understand the challenges to their rights that come along with these choices. If you’ve been watching today and following their efforts at “religious freedoms” over the last year, you’ll recognize their disingenuous if not hypocritical agenda. But I've all ready said that. Often.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • FDCJune 22, 2014 - 7:34 am

    It is amusing to watch local left wingers adding their two cents worth to a left wing news organization's shallow, non-news article. Still have a couple more lefties to hear from, though

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJune 22, 2014 - 7:58 am

    Good morning Mr. C! For the record, this information is all over the internet and folks representing the GOP are all in. Jindal and that clown Ralph Reed are front page news with their version this morning. As an American citizen that is all about Constitutional amendments you should be very afraid of these people. But since you’re a white hetero male that believes in god, you are exempt from their attacks. If you believe this is "non-news," then you are part of the problem.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagJune 22, 2014 - 10:40 am

    I don’t think Christian values is going to be a major issue of the next election when we have Immigration and the economy front and center, but 2016 is so far away we should keep out eye on 2014, let’s see what the house and senate look like and form that you will get what kind of nominee the right will have, I think Mitch McConnell is headed for the same problem John Boehner has where he will be the speaker but have just enough tea party senators that he will have a very hard time being the RINO he is,

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Jason KnowlesJune 22, 2014 - 12:23 pm

    Many "Christian" values are very much at odds with GOP values. Unfettered free markets have shown to lend themselves to voracious greed. Matthew 19: 21-24 is pretty much a socialist manifesto. Proverbs 22:16 and Ecclesiastes 5:10 are also verses that fly in the face of what many GOP purists tout as their battle cry. To be fair, all potential GOP candidates have to pay homage to these "values voters" before a presidential run, or they risk not getting their endorsement, i.e. their dollars. Nothing to see here. Business as usual in U.S. politics.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mike KirchubelJune 22, 2014 - 12:30 pm

    Jason, exactly. Why don't the Republicans try practicing what they preach. They are C.I.N.O.s, Christian in name only.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJune 22, 2014 - 12:34 pm

    H.I.N.O.s, Hater inside 'N out.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • The SugarJarJune 22, 2014 - 12:49 pm

    If only there were some word starting with a W to give WHINOs.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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