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defending the First Amendment against the Christian right ...

Jews On First!

... because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind

This report has been updated continually since it was originally posted. The update icon shows newly added links.

On January 4th, after Huckabee won the Iowa caucuses, we posted a collection of Huckabee's positions and reactions to his victory. Mike Huckabee, Christian Zionist.

On January 3rd we posted an essay by Rev. Stan Moody, Mike Huckabee, Christian Zionist.

Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney vie for Christian right voters in Iowa

Romney speech pushes favorite buttons of right-wing evangelicals -- who are flocking to Huckabee

by JewsOnFirst.org, December 8, 2007

With the Iowa caucuses less than a month away, Mike Huckabee, an avowed biblical literalist with a television ad (below, right) identifying himself as a "Christian leader," is surging ahead in the polls. He is getting a national bounce from the surge. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, who has poured millions of dollars into his Iowa campaign only to be overtaken by the cash-starved Huckabee, gave a speech on religion aimed in part at ingratiating himself with right-wing evangelical Christians.

The big story a couple of months ago was how the leaders of the Christian right could not agree on a candidate. The movement's leaders are still divided, with Pat Robertson backing Rudy Giuliani while Paul Weyrich and Bob Jones III back Romney. But in Iowa, the religious right rank and file is increasingly polling for Huckabee, a Baptist pastor as well as a past governor of Arkansas. He has taken the lead in state polls and is rising in national polls as well.

Pastors organize for Huckabee
Last week Huckabee's campaign in Iowa announced the formation of the Huckabee Pastors Coalition in that state; several dozen pastors have signed on to the effort. Also last week, Chuck Hurley, leader of the Iowa affiliate of Focus on the Family, endorsed Huckabee.

Nationally, Huckabee's list of religious right endorsers is lengthening. Among the big names backing him are Donald Wildmon, leader of the American Family Association, Tim LaHaye, author of the Left Behind books and his wife Beverly LaHaye, founder of Concerned Women for America, Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr., Rick Scarborough of Vision America Action, and actor Chuck Norris. Huckabee has also been endorsed by Phil Burress, a major leader of the Christian right in Ohio.

One of the many blogs devoted to Huckabee has compiled a list of his endorsers here.

Secular Republicans might not like evangelicals' choice
The irony is that the national Republican establishment -- which caters to big business and the wealthy -- might be nervous about this voter convergence on Huckabee. Conservative columnist Robert Novak wrote last month that the party was happy to have the Christian right as a reliable voting bloc but never expected it to coalesce behind one of its own.

Huckabee is campaigning as a conservative, but serious Republicans know that he is a high-tax, protectionist advocate of big government and a strong hand in the Oval Office directing the lives of Americans. Until now, they did not bother to expose the former governor of Arkansas as a false conservative because he seemed an underfunded, unknown nuisance candidate. Now that he has pulled even with Mitt Romney for the Iowa caucuses and might make more progress, the beleaguered Republican Party has a frightening problem.

The rise of evangelical Christians as the force that blasted the GOP out of minority status during the past generation always contained an inherent danger: What if these new Republican acolytes supported not merely a conventional conservative but one of their own? That has happened with Huckabee, a former Baptist minister educated at Ouachita Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Huckabee and backers shrug off Wall Street Republicans
A spokeswoman for some those "serious Republicans," the anti-tax Club for Growth, was quoted by the New York Times calling Huckabee "‘a serial tax hiker and a big-government big spender." According to the Times, Huckabee calls the group "The Club for Greed."

Huckabee backer Rick Scarborough, wrote enthusiastically of the possibility that Novak called frightening:

Some correctly point out that Huckabee hasn't raised enough money to conduct a national campaign and therefore suggest he is "unelectable." That appears to be changing, but while the money issue is important, it should not be the most important consideration for people of faith. We should not overlook the fact that he, a Republican, was elected thrice in a predominately Democrat state where he received over 45 percent of the black vote.

Many are praying that God will spare our great nation from the judgment we certainly deserve for the killing of over 45,000,000 pre-born children, not to mention the millstone we deserve to have hung around our necks for allowing our living children to be exploited by the sexual anarchists that now control public education and Hollywood. We need revival for survival.

I suggest that God may be sending us a lifeline. Who better to lead a nation nearing moral collapse and perhaps World War III than a president who is also a pastor with 10 years of senior executive experience as a governor? Many in the secular press are now reporting that he is a legitimate first-tier candidate whose star is rising while others are fading. Millions of voters are gravitating to him.

While Huckabee might be an economic populist, there is nothing to suggest that he deviates from Christian right positions in such areas as opposing a woman's right to choose, favoring the teaching of creationism and opposing LGBT rights. This week he prompted outrage when he defended his 1992 statement that people with HIV/AIDS should be isolated.

Romney says church-state separation has gone too far
In an effort to "sell" himself to Christian right voters, especially in Iowa, Mitt Romney gave a speech on religion on December 6th. In the speech he downplayed specific tenets of his Mormon faith and assured conservative evangelicals that he supported their goals of infusing government with religion.

After some perfunctory nods to religious freedom and John F. Kennedy's famed 1960 speech, Romney pushed a virtual panel of the religious right's favorite buttons, saying:

We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America - the religion of secularism. They are wrong.

The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation 'Under God' and in God, we do indeed trust.

We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders - in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places. Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests. I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from 'the God who gave us liberty.'

Romney also got in a dig against "radical Islam" and repeated a prevalent piece of theocratic mischief, saying: "Americans acknowledge that liberty is a gift of God, not an indulgence of government."

You'll find a transcript of Romney's speech, an audio link to the speech, as well as background and analysis here on the National Public Radio website. Additional links relating to Romney's speech are below.

It is unclear if Huckabee's bounce will propel him far beyond Iowa, where conservative Christians are expected to make up a sizable bloc of the caucus-goers -- or if he will start to collect the money he'd need for a credible national race. At a recent speech at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, Huckabee explained his low-budget campaign's success as the result of prayers. "There literally are thousands of people across this country who are praying that a little will become much," he said. "And it has. And it defies all explanation it has confounded the pundits..."


Huckabee Courts Evangelical Vote in Iowa
Former Southern Baptist Preacher Amassing Christian Evangelical Support in Iowa

By Jennifer Parker, ABC News, December 5, 2007

With less than one month before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, Republican presidential contender former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is amassing the support of Iowa's Christian evangelicals.

Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist minister, announced the names Tuesday in Iowa of more than 60 pastors endorsing his presidential bid, including Tim LaHaye, best-selling author of the Christian apocalyptic "Left Behind" series; LaHaye's wife, Beverly LaHaye, founder of Concerned Women for America; and Chuck Hurley, an influential Iowa conservative.

The announcement was the payoff of months of work by Huckabee staffer Matt Reisetter, 32, whose job it is to get Christian evangelicals in Iowa excited about Huckabee's bid for the GOP nomination.

"There's been a lot of evangelicals who really like the governor since the first time they were exposed to him," Reisetter said, " but there's a lot of pragmatists among the evangelical ranks — they want to support a winner." Continue.

Huckabee Announces Endorsement of Tim and Beverly LaHaye, Iowa Family Values Activist Chuck Hurley & Formation of Iowa Pastors Coalition

News release, Huckabee campaign via PolicitsAndChristianity.com, December 05, 2007

Des Moines, IA – Flanked by several dozen members of the Iowa clergy, Republican Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee today announced his campaign’s Iowa Pastors Coalition, the endorsement of Iowa family values leader Chuck Hurley and the support of nationally known religious leader Tim LaHaye and his spouse, Beverly LaHaye, who founded Concerned Women of America. Continue.

Why I'm supporting Mike Huckabee for president

By Pastor Rick Scarborough, WorldNetDaily, November 1, 2007. Scarborough is president of Vision America Action.

Dear Friends,
I write you as a private citizen and not as president of Vision America. From where I sit in the gallery of the Christian conservative movement, we are in complete disarray. Since the last election we have lost several giants including Dr. Bill Bright, Dr. Adrian Rogers, Dr. Jerry Falwell and Dr. D. James Kennedy.

Three years ago, Karl Rove, the architect of George W. Bush's rise to power and prominence, was touting an era of conservative control of all branches of government, and many in our circles were celebrating, even though there was little evidence that the victories we secured at the ballot box were in fact stemming the tide of moral collapse in our culture. Continue.

Why I like Mike for GOP 'bus driver'

by Janet Folger, WorldNetDaily, October 16, 2007. Folger is president of Faith2Action

The bus is leaving the station. Two of them, actually. Going to two very different places. Continue.

Hurley, Iowa Pastors Voice Support For Huckabee

by Jay Wagner, Iowa Independent, December 4, 2007. Staffed by professional journalists, the Independent is Iowa's largest online-only news outlet.

Chuck Hurley, director of the Iowa Family Policy Center announced his support of Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign, one of a series endorsement on Tuesday that illustrates the former Arkansas governor's growing support among religious conservatives. Although the Iowa Family Policy Center doesn't keep a membership list, its newsletter and radio broadcasts reach thousands of social conservatives in the state and it has coordinated effective lobbying efforts in the legislature against gay rights and other social issues.

The IFPC is one of two preeminent social conservative groups in the state; the other is the Iowa Christian Alliance, headed by Steve Scheffler of Des Moines. Both groups maintain neutrality in the presidential race, but Hurley's endorsement will no doubt provide the Huckabee campaign with improved access to Evangelicals and anti-abortion Catholics. Continue.

Home-School Ties Aided Huckabee's Iowa Rise
Early Backers Rallied Conservative Network

Peter Slevin and Perry Bacon Jr., The Washington Post, December 17, 2007

Eldora, Iowa -- Julie Roe, an early believer in Mike Huckabee, worked with what she had.

With no buttons, no yard signs and no glossy literature from his nearly invisible Iowa campaign, she took a pair of scissors and cut out a photograph of the former Arkansas governor. She pasted it on a piece of paper, scribbled down some of his positions, made copies and launched the Huckabee for President campaign in rural Hardin County. Roe contacted friends in her home-schooling network and bought a newspaper advertisement for $38. She spread the word in the grocery store and the church foyer: "I would tell them about Mike Huckabee and they would say, 'Who's Mike Huckleberry?' I'd say, 'No, no, no, it's Huckabee.' "

Huckabee's name is no longer a mystery to Iowa's Republican voters, in large part because of an extensive network of home-schoolers like Roe who have helped lift his underfunded campaign from obscurity to the front of a crowded field. Opinion polls show that his haphazard approach is trumping the studied strategy of Mitt Romney, who invested millions only to be shunned by many religious conservatives such as Roe, who see the former Baptist preacher from Hope, Ark., as their champion. Continue.

Invisible force helping Mike Huckabee
Largely unknown Christian leaders prove powerful in Iowa

Wayne Slater, The Dallas Morning News, December 24, 2007

Mike Huckabee's political rise has been fueled by a vast network of local Christian leaders largely unknown to the general public but powerfully influential in evangelical circles.

That strategy – methodically rolling up the support of these grass-roots networks – has paid big dividends, helping catapult Mr. Huckabee ahead in Iowa and boosting his prospects in the Republican field.

"All these leaders that most of the national media don't recognize, they're all coming to Huckabee," said supporter Kelly Shackelford of Plano-based Liberty Legal Institute.

On Sunday, the former Arkansas governor was in the pulpit of a San Antonio megachurch, where he made no apologies for the religious tone of recent holiday campaign commercials and delivered a sermon on the birth and resurrection of Jesus. Continue.

Shake, Rattle and Roil the Grand Ol’ Coalition

By David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, December 30, 2007

AS a Republican presidential primary candidate, Mike Huckabee is a puzzle.

A Southern Baptist pastor and thoroughgoing social conservative, Mr. Huckabee has struck a distinctly populist chord when it comes to economics. He has criticized executive pay, sympathized with labor unions, denounced “plutocracy,” and mocked the antitax group the Club for Growth as “the Club for Greed.” And when it comes to foreign affairs he sometimes sounds almost liberal; for example, comparing the United States’ place in the world to “a top high school student, if it is modest about its abilities and achievements, if it is generous in helping others, it is loved.”

Yet he has surged to the head of the pack in polls of Iowa Republicans in the week before their caucus and moved close to the front in national polls as well. Now his success is setting off a debate in his party over whether his success marks the fading of the old Reaganite conservative coalition — social conservatives, antitax activists and advocates of a muscular defense — or, rather, offers a chance for its rejuvenation. Continue.

Pastors Urged To Caucus By Huckabee Supporters

Marc Ambinder, Blog, The Atlantic.com, December 28, 2007

Here's an explicit example of how Mike Huckabee is relying on an outsourced Get-Out-The-Caucusers effort and on the implied support of pastors -- under the radar.

Pastor Rick Scarborough is hosting a conference call with Iowa pastors to discuss the caucus... joining him are Dr. Tim "Left Behind" LaHaye and Dr. Michael "Home School" Farris.

All three are committed supporters of Mike Huckabee. An e-mail sent to Iowa pastors advertising the call doesn't mention Huckabee -- that wouldn't be legal -- but does say that pastors "have a duty" to keep their congregants "informed" and to lead them to "participate" in the caucuses. Continue.

Huckabee angers some Catholics

Jim Forsyth, Reuters, December 23, 2007

San Antonio (Reuters) - Rising Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee risked his standing with Catholic voters on Sunday by courting his evangelical base at the church of a controversial preacher accused of disparaging Catholics.

There are a few remnants of anti-Catholicism among evangelical Christians in the South but the two sides have found much common political ground over the past three decades in their strident opposition to abortion and gay marriage.

But the visit to Cornerstone, pastor John Hagee's imposing "mega-church" in the Texas city of San Antonio, was fraught with political perils for Huckabee given his efforts to woo conservative Catholics. Continue.

Huckabee Defends Jesus as Point of Christmas

Michelle Vu, Christian Post Reporter, December 25 2007

Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said Jesus Christ is the point of Christmas during a sermon in reference to his Christmas ad, which has come under fire for its frank religious tone.

Sometimes in the middle of Christmas, Jesus is the one person who’s tough to find. You can find Santa at every mall. You can find discount in every store,” Huckabee said at the 25,000-stong Cornerstone Church in San Antonio on Sunday, according to Fox News. “But if you mention the name of Jesus, as I found out recently, it upsets the whole world. Forgive me, but I thought that was the point of the whole day.”

The former Arkansas governor began running a new ad last week in several of the primary states in which he wishes American voters of all faiths a “Merry Christmas.” In the ad, he references the birth of Christ as the Christmas carol “Silent Night” plays in the background and a cross-like image glows behind him, which he explains is just bookshelves.

“I got in a little trouble this last week because I actually had the audacity to say ‘Merry Christmas.’ Isn’t that an odd thing to say at this time of year,” Huckabee said during his 30-minute sermon to a nearly full 5,500-seat auditorium. Continue.

The Evangelical Rebellion

By Chris Hedges, Truthdig, December 23, 2007

The rise of Mike Huckabee as a presidential candidate represents a seismic shift in the tactics, ideology and direction of the radical Christian right. Huckabee may stumble and falter in later primaries, but his right-wing Christian populism is here to stay. Huckabee represents a new and potent force in American politics, and the neocons and corporate elite, who once viewed the yahoos of the Christian right as the useful idiots, are now confronted with the fact that they themselves are the ones who have been taken for a ride. Members of the Christian right, recruited into the Republican Party and manipulated to vote against their own interests around the issues of abortion and family values, are in rebellion. They are taking the party into new, uncharted territory. And they presage, especially with looming economic turmoil, the rise of a mass movement that could demolish what is left of American democracy and set the stage for a Christian fascism.

The corporate establishment, whose plundering of the country created fertile ground for a radical, right-wing backlash, is sounding the alarm bells. It is scrambling to bolster Mitt Romney, who, like Rudy Giuliani or Hillary Clinton, will continue to slash and burn on behalf of corporate profits. Columnist George Will called Huckabee’s populism “a comprehensive apostasy against core Republican beliefs.” He wrote that Huckabee’s candidacy “broadly repudiates core Republican policies such as free trade, low taxes, the essential legitimacy of America’s corporate entities and the market system allocating wealth and opportunity.” National Review’s Rich Lowry wrote that “like [Howard] Dean, his nomination would represent an act of suicide by his party.” Continue.

Baptists Not on Board

Robert D. Novak, The Washington Post, December 20, 2007

When Mike Huckabee went to Houston on Tuesday to raise funds for his fast-rising, money-starved presidential candidacy, a luncheon for the ordained Baptist minister was arranged by evangelical Christians. On hand was Judge Paul Pressler, a hero to Southern Baptist Convention reformers. But he was a nonpaying guest who supports Fred Thompson for president.

Huckabee greeted Pressler warmly. That contrasted with Huckabee's anger two months ago when they encountered each other in California. The former governor of Arkansas took issue then with comments by Pressler, a former Texas appeals court judge, that Huckabee had been a slacker in the war against secularists within the Baptist church.

The warmth in Texas and hostility in California reflects the dual personality of the pastor-politician who has broken out of the presidential campaign's second tier. Huckabee can come across as either a Reagan or a Nixon. More than personality explains why not all his Baptist brethren have signed on the dotted line for Huckabee. He did not join the "conservative resurgence" that successfully rebelled against liberals in the Southern Baptist Convention a generation ago. Continue.

Huckabee Counts on Pastors for Iowa Help

by Libby Quaid, Associated Press, ABC News, December 19, 2007

DES MOINES, Iowa - Republican Mike Huckabee, the former Baptist preacher, is depending on more than a leap of faith to win the Iowa caucuses.

Leading in polls, Huckabee is determined to make up for his skimpy organization in the state by enlisting national evangelical Christian supporters to rev up Iowa pastors and coax voters to the Jan. 3 caucuses.

Word of mouth in churches and among Christian groups can be a powerful force in Iowa politics. Christian believers make up the core of Huckabee's support in the state, said Rick Scarborough, a well-known Texas preacher who has endorsed the former Arkansas governor, though he adds that "it's not his only constituency."

Scarborough heads Vision America, one of several groups trying to help Huckabee. The groups - some overtly religious, some not - are using a variety of tactics, all independent of Huckabee's campaign. Continue.

Pulpit Was the Springboard for Huckabee’s Rise

Jodi Kantor And David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times, December 6, 2007

In August 1980, as the conservative Christian movement was first transforming American politics, Ronald Reagan stood before a Dallas stadium full of 15,000 foot-stomping, hand-clapping evangelicals and pledged his fealty to the Bible. “All the complex and horrendous questions confronting us at home and worldwide have their answer in that single book,” said Mr. Reagan, the Republican presidential nominee.

Assisting with logistics for the event was a young seminary dropout named Mike Huckabee. “It was the genesis for the whole movement,” Mr. Huckabee recalled of those early days.

Now Mr. Huckabee is running for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, his campaign shaped by his two decades as an evangelical pastor and broadcaster. While he says he is running based on his career in the Arkansas governor’s mansion, not the pulpit, he has grounded his views on issues like abortion and immigration in Scripture, rallied members of the clergy for support, benefited from the anti-Mormon sentiment dogging a political rival and relied on the down-to-earth style he honed in the pulpit to help catapult him in the polls. Continue.

The Huckabee Factor

By ZEV CHAFETS, New York Times Magazine, December 12, 2007

The Front-Runner (for the Moment at Least) Mike Huckabee addressing reporters in Newton, Iowa. Short on money and volunteers, Huckabee finds himself in an unusual spot: Ahead in the polls. But he is facing a very long race. Mike Huckabee walked into the lobby of the Des Moines Marriott at 5:30 a.m. on Dec. 3, deposited an armful of dirty laundry at the desk and checked to make sure he was being credited with Marriott Rewards points toward his next stay. Then, accompanied by his wife, Janet, his daughter, Sarah, and his press secretary, Alice Stewart — who doubles as his Boston Marathon trainer — he walked into the dark, freezing morning, climbed into a waiting S.U.V. and headed for Central College in Pella, Iowa.

Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, was in a buoyant mood on three hours of sleep. The night before, his commercial flight suffered a long Chicago holdover on the way from Boston, but he had reason to hope that his days at the mercy of the airlines might be numbered. A Des Moines Register opinion poll had just shown Huckabee passing Mitt Romney to take the lead in the run-up to the Jan. 3 caucus. His picture, he already knew, was on the front page of that morning’s USA Today. Now he was headed to Central College, to appear, surrounded by enthusiastic students, on ‘‘The Early Show’’ on CBS . This kind of momentum, he hoped, would finally produce enough cash to allow him to charter his own plane.

The governor was especially happy that morning about an impending endorsement he expected (and received the following day) from Tim LaHaye, the author of the apocalyptic ‘‘Left Behind’’ series of novels. ‘‘Left Behind’’ is wildly popular among evangelicals, who have bought more than 65 million copies, making LaHaye a very rich man and one of the few writers who is also a major philanthropist. Recently he donated a hockey rink to Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, although some members of the faculty there deride ‘‘Left Behind’’ as science fiction. Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, has no such reservations. He considers the ‘‘Left Behind’’ books, in which the world comes to a violent end as Jesus triumphs over Satan, a ‘‘compelling story written for nontheologians.’’ Continue.

Republican Love in Des Moines

Associated Press, Advocate.com, December 13, 2007

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee apologized to Mitt Romney on Wednesday for saying, ''Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?''

An ordained Southern Baptist minister, Huckabee asked the question in an article to be published Sunday in The New York Times, which released his quote Tuesday. Romney retorted that ''attacking someone's religion is really going too far.''

Huckabee apologized Wednesday, saying he had asked an innocent question during a lengthy conversation and was shocked to see it taken out of context. Continue.

Christian Angst Over a Romney Presidency

Frank Pastore, Townhall.com, December 18, 2007

Millions of Christian conservatives have the same angst I do: we’re willing to vote for Mitt Romney for president, but unwilling to compromise our Christian faith in the process.

Calling us “bigots” and claiming that any discussion of Mormon theology is “out of bounds” only aggravates our deepest concerns and makes our vote for him more difficult and perhaps less likely.

As Christians, our deepest allegiance and commitment is to Jesus Christ and His Word. We are Christians first, Americans second and conservatives third—and we’ll support the Republican Party as long as it maintains fidelity to our deepest core values. Continue.

In Christmas-Greeting Style, Huckabee Makes Appeal to Voters

By Michael Cooper, New York Times, December 19, 2007

In its review of a Mike Huckabee commercial running in Iowa, New Hampshire and several other states, the Times notes visuals of a Christmas tree and an apparent cross. The paper opines: "This gauzy Hallmark card of a political advertisement operates on several levels. It seeks to inoculate Mr. Huckabee from the attack advertisements of his rivals, which are questioning his record on immigration and crime, by pointing out that the Christmas season should be about religion and friends and family — a message that could be effective among Iowans, who are widely believed to dislike negative campaigning. By mentioning “Christ” and “God” so prominently, though, Mr. Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, may be trying to rally the conservative evangelical Christians who are flocking to him while simultaneously drawing a tacit comparison with his closest rival, Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon." Please Click here.

Huckabee Hides His Full Gospel?

By David Corn and Jonathan Stein, Mother Jones, December 10, 2007

Washington Dispatch: Is Mike Huckabee the presidential candidate shunning Mike Huckabee the preacher? Before entering politics, he was a pastor at two Baptist churches. Now his campaign tells Mother Jones it won't make his sermons available to the media and the public. Continue.

Huckabee: A Woman Should Submit To Her Husband

by The Associated Press, 365Gay. com, December 14, 2007

(Little Rock, Arkansas) Republican Mike Huckabee's record on women's rights is coming under increased scrutiny, including his endorsement of the Southern Baptist Convention's stance that women should "submit graciously" to their husbands and his opposition to sending women into combat.

Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, defended his record Thursday, saying he appointed many women to high positions in state government and on his staff during his 10 1/2 years as Arkansas governor. Continue.

The False Conservative

Robert D. Novak, Opinion, The Washington Post, November 26, 2007

Who would respond to criticism from the Club for Growth by calling the conservative, free-market campaign organization the "Club for Greed"? That sounds like Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich or John Edwards, all Democrats preaching the class struggle. In fact, the rejoinder comes from Mike Huckabee, who has broken out of the pack of second-tier Republican presidential candidates to become a serious contender -- definitely in Iowa and perhaps nationally.

Huckabee is campaigning as a conservative, but serious Republicans know that he is a high-tax, protectionist advocate of big government and a strong hand in the Oval Office directing the lives of Americans. Until now, they did not bother to expose the former governor of Arkansas as a false conservative because he seemed an underfunded, unknown nuisance candidate. Now that he has pulled even with Mitt Romney for the Iowa caucuses and might make more progress, the beleaguered Republican Party has a frightening problem. Continue.

Huckbee Agrees To Meet With Ryan White Mom

by The Associated Press, DemocraticUnderground.com, December 11, 2007

(Des Moines, Iowa) Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's 15-year-old comments that AIDS patients should have been isolated have so alarmed the mother of Ryan White, an Indiana teenager whose life-ending battle with AIDS in the 1980s engrossed the nation, that she has asked for a meeting.

"I would be very willing to meet with them," the former Arkansas governor responded Tuesday while campaigning in western Iowa. "I would tell them we've come a long way in research, in treatment."

The GOP front-runner in Iowa's Jan. 3 caucuses stood by his 1992 comments in a broadcast interview Sunday, infuriating Jeanne White-Ginder, the late teen's mother and a board member of the AIDS Institute. Continue.

Have a little faith in Huckabee
GOP hopeful gets serious in his second TV ad

Jessica Taylor and Irene Tsikitas, MSNBC.com, November 28, 2007

Washington - In his quest for the Republican presidential nomination, Mike Huckabee has acquired a reputation for bringing a lighter touch to the race, both literally and figuratively. The former Arkansas governor fed into his image as the cheerful conservative with his tongue-in-cheek debut ad last week featuring martial-arts star Chuck Norris. But with his second TV buy of the race, Huckabee is moving in a decidedly weightier direction, not by laying out policy points on Iraq, immigration or tax reform, but by bearing his soul to Iowa voters. Continue.

Huckabee Bristles at Creationism Query

By Liz Sidoti and Libby Quaid, Associated Press, FoxNews.com, December 05, 2007

DES MOINES, Iowa — Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist preacher who has surged in Iowa with evangelical Christian support, bristled Tuesday when asked if creationism should be taught in public schools.

Huckabee _ who raised his hand at a debate last May when asked which candidates disbelieved the theory of evolution _ asked this time why there is such a fascination with his beliefs.

"I believe God created the heavens and the Earth," he said at a news conference with Iowa pastors who murmured, "Amen." Continue.

Huckabee's Bid for the Christian Right

Amy Sullivan, Time Magazine, October 22, 2007

The conflict has been brewing underneath the surface, but the results of the straw poll at Saturday's Values Voters Summit made it official: the real struggle in the 2008 Republican primaries will be not between Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney or social conservatives and fiscal conservatives but between Christian Right leaders and the conservatives in the pews.

Coming off a heady week of endorsements from heavyweights in the Christian Right world, including Bob Jones III and Don Wilton, former president of the South Carolina Southern Baptist Convention, Mitt Romney technically won the straw poll with 1,585 of the total 5,576 votes cast. But it was former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee who lit up the crowd with a fiery sermon as the last candidate to address the gathering. He took second place, just 30 votes behind Romney. When organizers broke the votes down into those cast online and those of summit attendees, the results revealed a true thrashing. In the tally of those present at the summit, Huckabee swamped his opponents, capturing 50% of the vote. By contrast, Romney was the choice of only 10% of on-site values voters. Continue.

Huckabee Receives Endorsements From Zig Ziglar & Jerry Jenkins

News release, Huckabee campaign via UCDailyNews.com, November 19, 2007

Little Rock, AR – Former Arkansas Governor and Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee announced today that Zig Ziglar and Jerry Jenkins have joined the growing list of endorsements from members of the faith community.

“These two men are giants in their field and I’m proud to have their support,” Huckabee said. “Zig has taught me a great deal about effective leadership and Jerry’s writings have truly inspired me and deepened my faith.”

Zig Ziglar is an internationally acclaimed motivational speaker/ teacher who has written 26 books. He is founder of Ziglar, Inc, which is built upon the same philosophy he expounds to his audiences – hard work, common sense, fairness, commitment and integrity. Ziglar is an active member of Prestonwood Church in Dallas, Tex. Continue.

Dark Horse Surges with Religious Right Backing

By Bill Berkowitz, Inter Press Service December 7, 2007

OAKLAND, California, Dec 7 (IPS) - Although several of the leading Republican Party presidential candidates have won endorsements from Religious Right leaders and organisations, no one has brought more Christian conservative leaders into their camp than former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.

"Mike Huckabee has worked hard to get the Religious Right's backing and it seems to be paying off," the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, told IPS. Continue.

Will Huckabee's Murky Past Scuttle Presidential Bid?

by The Associated Press, 365Gay.com, November 28, 2007

(Little Rock, Arkansas) Mike Huckabee's presidential rivals are pointing to chinks in his record as Arkansas' governor - from ethics complaints to tax increases to illegal immigration and his support for releasing a rapist who was later convicted of killing a Missouri woman.

The Republican presidential candidate has plenty to champion from his 10 1/2 years as governor - including school improvements and health insurance for the children of the working poor. But his record has rough edges, and Huckabee has a habit of playing fast and loose with it.

Other campaigns for the GOP nomination, watching Huckabee's rise in polls in Iowa, are starting to mine his past for political fodder. Take ethics, for example. Continue.

Mike Huckabee: Playing Both Sides of the Pulpit
The candidate says he wants to unite the country. But in a 1998 book, Huckabee was a fierce culture warrior, equating environmentalism with pornography, homosexuality with necrophilia, and nonbelievers with evildoers.

David Corn, Mother Jones, December 17, 2007

At the last Republican presidential debate, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who had surged into the lead in the Iowa polls, pitched himself as the potential president who could unite a nation divided. "I think the first priority of the next president is to be a president of all the United States," he said. "We are right now a very polarized country, and that polarized country has led to a paralyzed government. We've got Democrats who fight Republicans, liberals fighting conservatives, the left fights the right. Who's fighting for this country again?...We've got to be the united people of the United States." Continue.

Southern Baptists vs. the Mormons
Mike Huckabee's and Mitt Romney's faiths have tangled before.

Neil J. Young, Slate, December 19, 2007

As the race for the Republican presidential nomination heats up, the competing theologies of the front-runners are getting as much attention as their differing policy proposals. Mitt Romney, a devout Mormon and the former governor of Massachusetts, faces a tough challenge from Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister and one-time governor of Arkansas. Huckabee's surge in Iowa owes itself in part to the strength of evangelical voters there who like his values and dislike his competitor's faith. He has catered occasionally to those supporters with sly references to their belief that Mormonism is a cult, such as his recent musing—which he later apologized for—in a New York Times Magazine cover piece: "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?" Continue.

Did Huckabee Study Mormons in School?
What a Southern Baptist pastor learns in seminary

Michelle Tsai, Slate, December 13, 2007

[TEXT]On Wednesday, Mike Huckabee apologized to fellow presidential candidate Mitt Romney for having asked a New York Times reporter, "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the Devil are brothers?" The former Southern Baptist pastor also said that he "thinks" Mormonism is a religion but doesn't know much about it. How much did Huckabee learn about the Mormons in seminary?

It depends on which classes he took. When Huckabee was at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in the mid-1970s, Mormon theology was probably taught alongside that of the Jehovah's Witnesses in a course on cults and sects. It might also have been a small part of a survey course focused either on comparative religions or missions. But Huckabee didn't have the opportunity to take a lot of classes—he left his seminary after a year to work for televangelist James Robison, and then became a full-time pastor five years later.Continue.

Romney's speech on faith and reaction to it

Text and audio of Romney's speech on faith

National Public Radio has posted audio and text of the speech here, along with reports and analysis.

Will Christians Turn on Mitt?

The Advocate, December 28, 2007

"Family values" advocate Peter LaBarbera is urging pro-family leaders who have endorsed presidential candidate Mitt Romney to rescind their support. According to a press release distributed by Christian News Wire, Romney's recent comments about state-recognized civil unions and gay rights on NBC's Meet the Press have disqualified "him as a pro-family leader."

LaBarbera, who is the founder of the website Republicans for Family Values, wrote: "Laws that treat homosexuality as a civil right are being used to promote homosexual 'marriage,' same-sex adoption, and pro-homosexuality indoctrination of schoolchildren. These same laws pose a direct threat to the freedom of faith-minded citizens and organizations to act on their religious belief that homosexual behavior is wrong. Continue.

The Crisis of Faith

Editorial, New York Times, December 7, 2007

Mitt Romney obviously felt he had no choice but to give a speech yesterday on his Mormon faith. Even by the low standards of this campaign, it was a distressing moment and just what the nation’s founders wanted to head off with the immortal words of the First Amendment: A presidential candidate cowed into defending his way of worshiping God by a powerful minority determined to impose its religious tenets as a test for holding public office.

Mr. Romney spoke with an evident passion about the hunger for religious freedom that defined the birth of the nation. He said several times that his faith informs his life, but he would not impose it on the Oval Office.

Still, there was no escaping the reality of the moment. Mr. Romney was not there to defend freedom of religion, or to champion the indisputable notion that belief in God and religious observance are longstanding parts of American life. He was trying to persuade Christian fundamentalists in the Republican Party, who do want to impose their faith on the Oval Office, that he is sufficiently Christian for them to support his bid for the Republican nomination. No matter how dignified he looked, and how many times he quoted the founding fathers, he could not disguise that sad fact. Continue.

Huckabee rise puts focus on religion talk

By Ben Harris and Ami Eden, JTA, December 23, 2007

NEW YORK (JTA) -- Mike Huckabee was a barely known former governor of Arkansas when he attended an October house party on his behalf at the home of Jason Bedrick, New Hampshire's first Orthodox Jewish state representative.

Despite the candidate's long odds, Bedrick was brimming with confidence in an interview he gave to an Orthodox news Web site.

"No one had ever heard of the last governor from Hope, Ark., Bill Clinton, the summer before he was elected," Bedrick told Yeshiva World News. "Huckabee is polling well in all the early states. He's a long shot, but he's the best shot we've got."

Barely two months later, those words seem prophetic. Continue.

Dead-End Debate Club
GOP candidates' focus on immigration and religion misleads and diverts the nation

Jonathan S. Tobin, Opinion article, Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, December 13, 2007. Tobin is the paper's executive editor

Tobin writes that the Republican presidential candidates are ignoring the war as a major issue, and instead are racing to the bottom. "While electability or opposing the Democrats' drive to end the war, regardless of the consequences or the fact that a focus on the threat from Islamist Iran may still motivate many Republicans, war and peace don't seem to be what the 2008 GOP race is about. Instead, immigration and faith seem to be the main talking points," he writes.

On immigration, Tobin writes: "Though most of those who now say that they're voting on immigration are not bigots themselves, they're still feeding into a tradition of nativism that has deep and ugly roots in American history." And, he continues: "Just as vile is the other main Republican story line -- the rise of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in the polls. Though an articulate down-home-style speaker, Huckabee's key talking point isn't so much his charm as his religion. The Baptist minister has crept up in the polls as much on the strength of his ability to flex his 'Christian' credentials as on his hard-core anti-abortion positions." Continue.

In '08 presidential campaign, professions of faith proliferate

By Ron Kampeas, JTA, December 12, 2007

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- One presidential contender suggests he might be unwilling to vote for a Muslim. Another airs a commercial calling himself a "Christian leader." A cable television anchor presses candidates to answer whether they "believe every word" of the Bible. And, finally, the Mormon in the race seeks to quell questions about his religion by insisting that Jesus is his savior.

Candidates in past election seasons have certainly talked up religion: In 2000, for example, Al Gore remarked that he often asked himself "What would Jesus do?" and George W. Bush named Jesus as the political philosopher who most influenced him. That's not to mention Joseph Lieberman's focus on his Jewish faith and insistence that the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not from religion.

But some observers are saying that the intersection of politics and piety in the 2008 presidential race seems more frequent, detailed and, often, exclusionary. Continue.

GOP Jewish group: Don't impose beliefs

JTA, December 18, 2007. (Full text)

The Republican Jewish Coalition urged candidates to be "mindful" of not imposing their beliefs on others.

"RJC urges the presidential candidates to uphold the long-held American tradition of religious tolerance and respect for religious diversity," said a statement from Matt Brooks, the coalition's director. "While expressing the importance of one's personal faith is perfectly understandable, I hope the candidates will be mindful of not imposing their religious beliefs on others. Questions involving theology have no place on the campaign trail."

The statement did not name a candidate, but Republican Jews are known to be uncomfortable with statements by Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor. Huckabee has called himself a "Christian leader" in ads, and his campaign workers reportedly have made an issue behind the scenes of the Mormon faith of another candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Click here

Jewish leaders qualified on Romney speech

JTA, December 7, 2007 (Full text)

Jewish organizational leaders expressed qualified praise for Mitt Romney's speech on his faith.

The former Massachusetts governor, whose Mormon faith has prompted resistance during his bid for the Republican Party's presidential nomination, delivered a major speech on how his Mormonism informs his life. Romney said his specific faith would have no bearing on how he governs, but added that he believes that American public life acknowledges a "creator."

"We should acknowledge the Creator as did the founders -- in ceremony and word," Romney said in a speech delivered Thursday at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Park, Texas. "He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places. Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests. I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from 'the God who gave us liberty.'"

Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League's national director, welcomed the speech but said he regretted that Romney felt compelled to deliver it.

"We agree that there is no place in our society for bigotry, and that one’s religion should never be a test for political office," he said in a statement. "We are deeply concerned, however, that it has become part of our political culture for candidates to be forced into asserting their religiosity, with some even openly hawking their faith on the campaign trial."

Rabbi David Saperstein, who directs the Reform movement's Religious Action Center, praised Romney's rejection of a religious standard for office as "a primer for electoral candidates to study in getting the use of religion in our elections right."

However, Saperstein said, he was troubled by an inherent contradiction in the speech: Romney affirmed that he believes Jesus is the son of God.

"If it were wrong to explain his Mormonism because candidates should not talk about their religion, then it was wrong to offer this assertion of faith, which served little purpose other than as a political ploy: to reassure observant Catholics and Protestants -- most of all conservative Evangelical Protestants -- that he shared their core belief," Saperstein wrote on his blog. Click here.

Romney moves to allay Mormon concerns directly
The GOP hopeful said no religious test should be applied to become president as is stated in the Constitution.

Linda Feldmann, The Christian Science Monitor, December 7, 2007

Washington - In an echo of John F. Kennedy's election-eve address on Catholicism 47 years ago, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney sought to allay concerns Thursday over his Mormon faith before an audience of invited guests at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.

Without delving into the specifics of Mormon doctrine, Mr. Romney invoked the Founding Fathers in asserting the nation's religious underpinnings, called for religious tolerance, and highlighted the "common creed of moral convictions" within the varied theologies of American churches.

And, just as the future President Kennedy promised in 1960 that he would not accept instruction from the pope, Romney promised that as president he would answer to "no one religion." Continue.

The Republicans Find Their Obama

Column by Frank Rich, New York Times, December 9, 2007

COULD 2008 actually end up being a showdown between the author of “The Audacity of Hope” and the new Man from Hope, Ark.?

It sounds preposterous, but Washington’s shock over Mike Huckabee’s sudden rise in the polls — he “came from nowhere,” Robert Novak huffed last week — makes you wonder. Having failed to anticipate so much else, including the Barack Obama polling surge of days earlier, the press pack has proved an unreliable guide to election 2008. What the Beltway calls unthinkable today keeps turning out to be front-page news tomorrow.

The prevailing Huckabee narrative maintains that he’s benefiting strictly from the loyalty of the religious right. Evangelical Christians are belatedly rallying around one of their own, a Baptist preacher, rather than settling for a Mormon who until recently supported abortion rights or a thrice-married New Yorker who still does. But that doesn’t explain Mr. Huckabee’s abrupt ascent to first place in some polling nationwide, where Christian conservatives account for a far smaller slice of the Republican pie than in Iowa. Indeed, this theory doesn’t entirely explain Mr. Huckabee’s steep rise in Iowa, where Mitt Romney has outspent him 20 to 1, a financial advantage that Mr. Romney leveraged to crush him in the state’s straw poll just four months ago.

What really may be going on here is a mirror image of the phenomenon that has upended Hillary Clinton’s “inevitability” among Democrats. Like Senator Obama, Mr. Huckabee is the youngest in his party’s field. Continue.

Presidential Faith Test

Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, TomPaine.com, December 07, 2007

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's speech Thursday was more evidence to support what I have already thought about the use of faith in the presidential race.

The attention given to Romney's Mormon faith is unfortunately not the only example of the disproportionate role that religion has played in the 2008 presidential election. Senator John McCain has referred to the U.S. as a Christian nation, senators Clinton and Obama continue to work aggressively to secure the endorsements of clergy, and I am anxious to know what Rudy Giuliani promised Pat Robertson to receive his endorsement.

But this week, the story is about Mitt Romney and his speech. Romney sought to allay any fears that he will use the government to advance his religion or that his political decisions will be made on the basis of theology. Great. Now, I would like Romney to get on with talking about the issues on which the presidency should be decided-issues such as the economy, health care, war and terrorism. Continue.

Crouse Analyzes Romney's 'Symphony of Faith' Speech

Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, Concerned Women for America, December 7, 2007

Washington, Dec. 7 /Christian Newswire/ -- Governor Romney gave a major speech this week explaining how his religious faith impacts his campaign for the Presidency. "All the candidates," said Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, Director and Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute, "will benefit from Romney's declaration that freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. All candidates will benefit from his clarification that separation of church and state does not include removing God from the public square."

"Ironically," said Crouse, "Evangelical candidates face more obstacles from the media and the elites than Governor Romney, the Mormon candidate. The hostility and distrust of Evangelicals far exceeds that faced by the Mormons. Let us hope that acceptance of what Governor Romney called the 'symphony of faith' will extend to Evangelicals." Continue.

Moral Principles and a Common Course

Tony Perkins, The Family Research Council, December 6, 2007

Mitt Romney delivered a much-anticipated speech today on faith in America. He was introduced by former President George H. W. Bush, whose official library at Texas A&M University hosted the address. While Governor Romney focused the bulk of his message on the importance of religion in American public life and religious liberty as our first freedom, the sub-themes of his Mormon heritage and the position of minority religions in our nation were equally present in his talk.

It would be an illusion to think that any single speech could assuage every concern or end the thriving discussions Americans have about these issues. In fact, no single speech should even try to accomplish that. We are a religious people whose very institutions, as the Supreme Court has noted, "presuppose" the existence of a Supreme Being. Going forward, our debates about these issues should remain vigorous and Americans must remain free to worship as they choose and, also, though some would deem it impolite, to evangelize one another about religious truth.

Romney's remarks were well-delivered and he offered many compelling thoughts, including this one, "It is important to recognize that while differences in theology exist between the churches in America, we share a common creed of moral convictions. Continue.

Romney speech labeled 'historic,' 'enduring'

Jim Brown, OneNewsNow.com, December 7, 2007

The head of the National Clergy Council says he was impressed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's speech because it "set a high bar" for other presidential candidates to address the role of religion in the public square. And a Romney campaign worker who is a former U.S. senator is giving the speech high marks as well

Governor Romney yesterday sought to allay the concerns of those voters who are uneasy about his Mormonism by stressing that he shares a "common creed of moral convictions" with people of all faiths. While he did not reveal how his Mormon faith would inform his presidency if he were to win the White House, he did state that he believes "Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Savior of mankind."

"My church's beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths," the presidential hopeful stated. "Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These are not bases for criticism, but rather a test of tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree." Continue.

Secular Europe’s Merits

Opinion column by Roger Cohen, December 13, 2007

Cohen writes about European estrangement from the US, notably because of the Bush administration's non-rational stress on religion and the growth of anti-Darwinism in the US. Writing about Romney's speech from St. Andrews, Scotland, where Protestants destroyed the cathedral in the 16th century, Cohen says, "Europeans still take the Enlightenment seriously enough not to put it inside quote marks. They have long found an inspiring reflection of it in the first 16 words of the American Bill of Rights of 1791: 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.'" "Religion informed America’s birth," he writes. "But its distancing from politics was decisive to the republic’s success. Indeed, the devastating European experience of religious war influenced the founders’ thinking. That is why I find Romney’s speech and the society it reflects far more troubling than Europe’s vacant cathedrals."Click here.

Un-Mormon and Unchristian

Richard Cohen, The Washington Post, December 4, 2007

What could be called "The Huckabee Moment" occurred Sunday morning when ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked the former Arkansas governor, suddenly and ominously the front-runner in Iowa's GOP contest, whether Mitt Romney is a Christian. Mike Huckabee knew precisely what was being asked of him, and he also knew, because he is a preacher, what the right -- not the clever, mind you -- answer should be. But Huckabee merely smiled that wonderful smile of his and punted. This, with apologies to George W. Bush, is the soft demagoguery of low expectations.

Until just recently, the expectations have indeed been low for Huckabee. He is more famous for losing more than 100 pounds than for any towering political accomplishment. But he is an ordained Baptist minister, and Romney is a Mormon -- a member of a church that some conservative Christians consider heretical. Huckabee has presented himself as the un-Mormon.

Pardon me for saying so, but that is the chief difference between the two. On about all the social issues you can name -- abortion, stem cells, gun control -- Huckabee and Romney are in sync. So their religious differences are not about morality. They are about belief -- religious belief, precisely the issue that is not supposed to matter in this country. Huckabee, though, clearly thinks it ought to. Continue.

Romney to Give Mormon Speech

Associated Press, DemocraticUnderground.com, December 2, 2007

Des Moines, Iowa - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, striving to be the country's first Mormon president, will give a speech this week explaining his relatively unknown faith to voters, his campaign said Sunday.

The decision, made after months of debate at his Boston headquarters over whether to make a public address about his religion, comes as the former Massachusetts governor's bid is threatened in Iowa by underdog Mike Huckabee. The ex-governor of Arkansas and one-time Southern Baptist minister has rallied influential Christian conservatives to erase Romney's monthslong lead and turn the race into a dead-heat.

Romney will deliver a speech called "Faith in America" at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas, on Thursday, outlining his religious beliefs and how they might impact his administration. Continue.

Mitt's 'JFK speech' called 'wild gamble'

Lisa Riley Roche, The Deseret Morning News, December 4, 2007

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's decision to give a speech this week confronting questions about his Mormon faith is being seen as a gamble that may not be a win with either supporters or opponents.

The so-called "JFK speech" is set to be delivered by Romney on Thursday, less than a month before Iowa Republicans and Democrats will cast the first votes in the 2008 presidential race in party caucuses.

The site of the speech is the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas, and although the Romney campaign has said the choice of location shouldn't be seen as an endorsement, former President George H.W. Bush himself will introduce Romney. Continue.

Romney to address Mormon faith in speech

David Jackson, USA Today, December 4, 2007

Manchester, N.H. — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Monday that he won't be tackling religious discrimination or emulating John F. Kennedy when he delivers a speech later this week on religion.

Instead, Romney said in a brief interview, he will address "keeping faith in the public square" as he seeks to become the nation's first Mormon president.

In 1960, Kennedy tried to reassure voters that he would not govern based on his Catholicism or take direction from the Vatican. His speech focused on the separation of church and state, and the need for religious tolerance in America. Continue.

Analysis: Romney speech on faith brings risk

Mike Allen and Jonathan Martin, The Politico, USA Today, December 4, 2007

Mitt Romney decided to deliver a major speech about his religious faith after concluding attention to his Mormonism would only intensify in potentially unflattering ways in the crucial weeks ahead. But even some of his top aides see the speech as a wildly unpredictable gamble.

Aides were split over the wisdom of elevating the Mormon issue even more, and the campaign goes into the speech with barely disguised trepidation.

Romney, however, is excited to finally be fighting back, advisers said.

The speech, titled "Faith in America," is potentially at war with the campaign's longtime precept that it is not a winning strategy for Romney to be identified primarily as the Mormon candidate in a Republican race dominated by Christian voters. Continue.