Without a Mike Huckabee-like figure in the race, Evangelical pastors are divided over who to endorse for the GOP presidential nomination. Christian leaders don’t trust presumptive nominee Mitt Romney “because of his Mormon faith and his past support of gay rights and abortion rights,” and they’re not too impressed with the rest of the pack either.
For instance, Michele Bachmann has courted the social conservative vote throughout her political career, but the Associated Press’ Thomas Beaumont reports that her recent diva-esque behavior and gender have turned off more than a few would be supporters:
The pastors see faults in all.
While Bachmann’s aides have been vigilant about reaching out to pastors, she has developed a reputation for being late and has kept some pastors waiting for scheduled telephone calls. Some never came. And, pastors privately say, she faces doubts from some members of the evangelical clergy who oppose women in executive positions and others who question whether Muslim leaders would respect a woman president.
Santorum has come under scrutiny for his endorsement of former Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, a Republican who supported abortion rights. The endorsement is a turn-off on an issue at the very heart of the social conservative movement. Pastors have questioned him about it.
And some have objected strongly to Perry’s 2007 executive order requiring school-age girls to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cancer.
Perry is still trying to win over conservative religious voters and keep his sinking campaign afloat. This morning, the Texas governor refused to repudiate the comments of prominent endorser Rev. Robert Jeffress — who has described Mormonism as a “cult” — and agreed that he has been persecuted because of his Christian Conservative ideology. Perry has surrounded himself with many other controversial conservatives who regularly speak out against gays, Muslims, Jews, or any other minorities who disagree with their Evangelical world view, but remains to be seen whether any of this will translate into greater political support.