Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

A McCain Skeptic, Dobson Still Not Won Over

Christian evangelical leader James Dobson listens as President Bush, not pictured, addresses the National Religious Broadcasters 2008 Convention, Tuesday, March 11, 2008, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn. (AP.)

By Krissah Williams
In the weeks since he became the presumptive Republican nominee, polls show that Arizona Sen. John McCain has been steadily winning over rank and file evangelicals and conservatives. But when it comes to conservative Christian leaders, McCain is still largely in a stand-off.

Chief among his critics is longtime evangelical leader James Dobson, who has made no bones about his personal dissatisfaction with this year's field of presidential candidates. In a statement sent to the Laura Ingraham show before the Feb. 5 primary contests, Dobson said: "Should John McCain capture the nomination as many assume, I believe this general election will offer the worst choices for president in my lifetime. ... If these are the nominees in November, I simply will not cast a ballot for president for the first time in my life."

This weekend, Dobson's Focus on the Family sent out an e-mail alert saying Dobson had changed his mind. The e-mail's subject line read: "I certainly will vote."

But who will the evangelical leader vote for?

Blogger Dan Gilgoff of, author of "The Jesus Machine: How James Dobson, Focus on the Family, and Evangelical America are Winning the Culture War," posted the text of Dobson's alert on his God-O-Meter blog. Wrote Gilgoff:

Dr. James Dobson told Sean Hannity on Sunday night he is going to vote in the November election -- ending weeks of speculation that he would sit on the sidelines over his policy disagreements with the two major parties' candidates for the White House. ...

"I think we have a God-given responsibility to vote, and there are all of the candidates and the issues down the ballot that we have an obligation to weigh in on and let our voices be heard."

... As for John McCain, Dr. Dobson responded with a question of his own when Hannity said he had received assurances from the Arizona senator that he would keep the pro-life and pro-marriage planks in the GOP's party platform.

"Did he give you a commitment about embryonic stem-cell research?" Dr. Dobson asked.

"We did not get that," Hannity replied.

"But that's an important one for me," Dr. Dobson explained.

Dobson elaborated today in a statement published in the Wall Street Journal:

I have seen no evidence that Sen. McCain is successfully unifying the Republican Party or drawing conservatives into his fold. To the contrary, he seems intent on driving them away. ... To my knowledge, he has not reached out to pro-family leaders or changed any of the positions that have troubled them. He still believes, for example, that federal money should be allocated for laboratory experiments with tiny human embryos, after which they would be killed when they are no longer useful. He continues to favor allowing each state to create its own definition of marriage, potentially giving the nation 50 different legal interpretations. It would create chaos within families. ... One of his senior advisors asserted recently on Fox News that 'the right' can just go its own way, stating that McCain can win by attracting moderates and crossover Democrats. That seems to be the strategy. These are not the policies and pronouncements of a man who is seeking to 'unify the party.' Indeed, they appear to be fracturing an increasingly divided constituency.

McCain's team has done outreach to conservatives, speaking at both the Conservative Political Action Conference and the Council for National Policy, a group of prominent Christian conservatives.

But Dobson remains, shall we say, unimpressed.

By Web Politics Editor  |  April 2, 2008; 1:02 PM ET
Categories:  John McCain , The Debate Rages On...  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: McCain Assembling Veep List
Next: Obama Savors Some Very Special Pork


Wait... I care about his endorsement.

Posted by: Danny | April 19, 2008 12:21 AM | Report abuse

We need to remember that our fore founders were clear about the separation of church and state. I am a Christian. I follow the teachings of Jesus. Jesus loved and accepted everyone. He taught forgiveness and tolerance. Mr. Dobson does not have a clue what tolerance is. It is his way or the highway. He is no different than the radical extrememists. He is just a man , he is not God. Homosexuality has been around for a long long time. Abortion will be performed whether it is legal or not. Stem cell research is important for people who have major health concerns. He is a Republican not for family values but for big businees. I am a Democrat. I have excellent family values. The Republicans don't promote aid for the little guy. What does that tell you. Dobson will never be like Jesus. Who cares about his endorsement.

Posted by: Danny | April 9, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

The question is who will blink first. Dobson is not so subtly issuing a challenge to McCain: change your position on stem-cell research or I won't endorse you. If McCain holds his ground, Dobson's got two problem: his choices will be narrowed to a write-in vote for either Ron Paul or his favorite candidate all along, Romney, and very public evidence that the time of his influence is long over. I too blogged about this on Beliefnet, on the "God's Politics" blog.
~~Marcia Ford, author of "We the Purple: Faith, Politics and the Independent Voter"

Posted by: ford2200 | April 3, 2008 12:06 AM | Report abuse

That's the Maverick McCain for you. You gotta love the guy!

Posted by: KYJurisDoctor | April 2, 2008 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Not all evangelicals feel as Mr. Dobson does about John McCain. Len Munsil, a social, fiscal and foreign policy conservative who founded the nation's largest state-based, evangelical pro-family organization associated with Dr. James Dobson and Focus on the Family, recently endorsed John McCain for President. Len was a leader in enacting pro-life and pro-marriage policies in Arizona, and in 2006 won the Republican nomination for Governor of Arizona before losing to the Democratic incumbent. In this article he argues that "every thinking conservative" should enthusiastically support Sen. John McCain's candidacy for President.

To read the endorsement, which was featured in this weekend's Arizona Republic, please visit

Len Munsil also maintains a blog at

Posted by: bnyhart | April 2, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse

You mean "nuke the world" figuratively?

Posted by: JakeD | April 2, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Dobson is a scarey "al quaeda Christian" willing to nuke the world for his personal beliefs meanwhile living off the poor fools who believe his racism. All the tele-tubby-evangelists are scarey and selfish.... even the ones not in prison yet.....

Posted by: philosopherkingtomas | April 2, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse


"Morality" in politics is "profane"? Interesting.

Posted by: JakeD | April 2, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Dobson, you Evangelicals need to stop acting like you wrote the Book on Values. You, along with many branches of the Faith of the God of Abraham, have simply RE-Written it to your liking! ;-)

I Judge People and their professed Believes by their OWN Actions! Haggard, Craig, and Foley-DO NOT an Evanglical, make ME want to be! You need to BACK OFF from any High Horse you think you should be on! REALLY!

A Man of HIGH Values, with an Incredible Family that screams "Family Values", and is a definite COMPLIMENT to his Faith-That he keeps in check!, is the PERFECT Compliment to the Military wise McCain.

All, including the Tarnished Evangelicals, Conservatives, should DEMAND! that WE get:


This Country NEEDS Mitt a lot more than any Congressional Lawyer Clowns!( O'Billary) ;~)

Posted by: rat-the | April 2, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

After the part they played in the great Republican Muckover of the American Government, let's hope evangelical rightwing see the error of their ways and go back to their pews, pray to their version of god for forgiveness and keep their narrow and twisted view of "morality" out of politics. It's profane and they know it. We'll all be better off

Posted by: thebobbob | April 2, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Same reasons why I don't plan on voting for John SIDNEY McCain either (unless the polling in California becomes extremely close ; )

Posted by: JakeD | April 2, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company