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“Memo To Evangelicals”

Thursday, October 11, 2007  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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Prominent PR specialist and evangelical Mark DeMoss has circulated a memo to leaders of evangelical organizations urging support for Mitt Romney.  I asked for and received his permission to reprint it here:

To: Conservative Evangelical Leaders

From: Mark DeMoss (Personally)

Subject:  The 2008 Presidential Election

Date:October 9, 2007 

 In about 100 days we will likely have a Republican nominee for president.  Most political observers believe it a near certainty that this nominee will face Hillary Clinton in the general election.  While most people think this election cycle started too early, I’m finding that few people realize the primaries are almost upon us-and how compacted the primary calendar is.

Within about 30 days after the last college football bowl game is played, primaries (and an all-important caucus) will be held in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Michigan, South Carolina, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah and West Virginia!  (At least a dozen of these will fall on the same day-February 5, 2008.)

As certain as it seems that Hillary will represent the Democratic Party, it now appears the GOP representative will be either Mayor Rudy Giuliani or Governor Mitt Romney (based on polls in early states, money raised and on hand, staff and organization, etc.).  And, if it is not Mitt Romney, we would, for the first time in my memory, be faced with a general election contest between two “pro-choice” candidates.[# More #]

I decided over a year ago to help Mitt Romney; and while I have not been (and will not be) paid one dollar, I have worked harder on behalf of a candidate this past year than in any election of my lifetime.  Why?  In large part because the next president is almost certain to appoint two-to-four Supreme Court justices.

When I began surveying the landscape of potential candidates I was looking for three things:

  1. Someone who most closely shared my values;

 

  1. Someone who has proven experience and competence to lead and manage large enterprises;
  1. Someone who can actually win the nomination (without which it is obviously impossible to challenge or beat Hillary Clinton, or any other democrat-people who certainly don’t share our values).

So how did I settle on Mitt Romney?  After spending months researching his life and his record, and hours with him (and his wife and staff) in his home, his office and on the road, I am convinced his values practically mirror my own-values about the sanctity of life, the
sacredness of marriage, the importance of the family, character and integrity, free enterprise and smaller government.  But more than one candidate shares my values; which leads me to my second criterion.

The President of the United States is the CEO of the largest enterprise on planet earth, presiding over a nearly $3 trillion budget and some 2 million employees (the size of the workforces of General Motors, General Electric, Citigroup, Ford, Hewlett-Packard and AT&T combined).  Mitt Romney has already been the chief executive of one of the most successful investment management firms in the world-Bain Capital, with nearly $6 billion under management; a Winter Olympic Games (Salt Lake City, 2002), where he turned a $379 million operating deficit into one of the most profitable Games ever; and the state of Massachusetts, where he eliminated a $3 billion deficit without raising taxes or borrowing money.

That kind of experience convinces me Mitt Romney could lead, manage and govern America during a critical time in world history.  But can he actually win (my third criterion)?  After he was the runaway winner of the important Iowa straw poll in August, TIME magazine’s political columnist Joe Klein wrote, “Romney now has to be considered a strong favorite to win the Republican nomination.  And another prediction: if nominated, Romney will be formidable in the general election.”

Like it or not (and most of us don’t), these campaigns have become obscenely expensive.  It has been estimated that the two party nominees may well spend in excess of $100 million in the primaries, and several times that in the general election.  One insider told me Hillary may spend half a billion dollars before it’s over!  This means a successful candidate must be able to come up with this kind of money.  Through the first three quarterly reporting periods, Republican candidates reported total revenues as follows:

  • Mitt Romney: $62.4 million
  • Rudy Giuliani: $46.1
  • John McCain: $30.5
  • Fred Thompson: $12.8
  • Ron Paul: $8.0
  • Sam Brownback: $3.3 (through 2 quarters; 3rd quarter number had not been reported yet)
  • Mike Huckabee: $2.3

These numbers are important for many reasons.  It takes money to hire staff, recruit volunteers, send out mailings, travel the country, organize events (Mitt told me recently he had done 462 events just in Iowa so far!) and to buy TV commercial time.  CNN recently reported that Romney just became the first candidate in history to buy 10,000 TV commercials at this point in the presidential campaign (by comparison, John McCain was purchasing his first commercials the same weekend).

Gov. Romney is also leading by 4%-11% or more in polls in a number of early states, such as Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada-and one recent poll now shows him leading in
South Carolina.  Historically, a candidate who wins the Iowa caucuses and several of the early primaries benefits from a tremendous amount of national exposure and fundraising momentum.

As this race heats up and we approach the final stretch of the nominating process, I have three growing concerns:

  1. Currently, conservatives (whether evangelical or not) are dividing their support among several candidates.  In the long run, this only helps Rudy Giuliani, who clearly does not share our values on so many issues.
  1. Talk of a possible third party candidate draft movement only helps Giuliani (or, worse yet, Clinton), in my view.  While I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. James Dobson that not having a pro-life nominee of either major party presents an unacceptable predicament, I would rather work hard to ensure we do nominate a pro-life candidate than to launch an 11th-hour third party campaign.  Mike Huckabee affirmed this concern when he told the Washington Post last week, “I think a third party only helps elect Hillary Clinton.”
  1. Perhaps most troubling to me is the idea I keep hearing that electing someone like Hillary Clinton would “actually be good for the conservative movement,” since it will “galvanize our forces, enable us to build our mailing lists and raise more money…therefore, I’m not going to vote for anyone this time around.”  Well, I am not willing to risk negatively changing the Supreme Court, and our entire judicial system, for the next 30 years in exchange for building our conservative mailing lists and operating budgets for the next four or eight years.  That, in my opinion, is selfish, short-sighted and dangerous. 

Here is what I believe is at stake in this election:

  • Someone is almost certain to appoint two, three, or four justices to the Supreme Court.  Do we want that person to be Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney?
  • Someone will cast vision and lead Congress on matters of national security, including securing our borders against illegal immigration.  Should that be Hillary, Rudy or Mitt?
  • Someone will deal with the definition of marriage in America-and will either defend and model a faithful marriage and strong family, or not.  Who should that person be?
  • Someone will either defend unborn life-or defend those who place their rights and desires above those who can’t defend themselves.  Would we prefer that Clinton, Giuliani or Romney be in that position?

[By the way, I am also troubled by skeptical sentiment in some corners about the legitimacy and sincerity of Gov. Romney’s “conversion” on the abortion issue.  I always thought the pro-life movement existed for the purpose of influencing hearts and minds
on the issue of life, and historically, we have celebrated converts to our side.  We embraced Ronald Reagan (who signed a liberal abortion law as governor of California), Norma McCorvey (“Jane Roe”), and others-and I am prepared to accept and embrace Mitt Romney.  I’ve also told him he will be held accountable on this if elected.]

  • Someone will need to deal with radical Islamic Jihadists and the threat they pose to our nation.  As evangelicals, do we want to entrust Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney with that critical assignment?
  • Finally, someone will either welcome evangelicals and people of faith into the White House and their administration; or shut them out of deliberations and consideration for various appointments.  Would Hillary, Rudy or Mitt be most accepting of evangelicals and people of faith?

Now, I fully recognize some evangelicals take issue with me for supporting a Mormon for the office of president, and I respect their concerns.  Indeed, I had to deal with the same concerns in my own heart before offering to help Gov. Romney.  But I concluded that I am more concerned that a candidate shares my values than he shares my theology.  (If I believed similar theology was paramount in a president, I would be writing this memo urging support of Mike Huckabee.)

As a Southern Baptist evangelical and political conservative, I am convinced I have more in common with most Mormons than I do with a liberal Southern Baptist, Methodist, Roman Catholic or a liberal from any other denomination or faith group.  The question shouldn’t be, “could I vote for a Mormon,” but, “could I vote for this Mormon?”  After all, Mitt told me there are Mormons he couldn’t vote for (I presume Harry Reid, for example); and there are Southern Baptists I couldn’t vote for (Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, to name a few).

Incidentally, if one-third of “white evangelicals” voted for Bill Clinton, the second time (a Southern Baptist who doesn’t share our values on most issues); can we not at least consider supporting a Mormon who does share our values?  Noted conservative columnist Robert Novak wrote this month that Mitt Romney is “the only Republican candidate unequivocally opposed to gay marriage and the only one who signed the no tax increase pledge.”

On May 17, my friend of nearly 30 years, Jerry Falwell, went to Heaven.  In addition to being my first employer and like a second father following the death of my father in 1979, Jerry was my political mentor in many ways.  I learned from him, some 25 years ago, the value of working closely with people of other faiths and religions who shared our convictions about the sanctity of life, support for the state of Israel, the sacredness of marriage and the importance of the family unit, the dangers of pornography, and the value of God in public life.  Consequently, the Moral Majority (and many subsequent organizations) was built with coalitions of evangelicals and like-minded Roman Catholics, Jews and yes, Mormons.

Just about six months before his death, Jerry accepted my invitation to a meeting with Gov. Romney at his home outside Boston.  He joined me, and about 15 other evangelicals, for an intimate discussion with the Governor and his wife Ann.  Jerry was one of several that day
who said, “Governor, I don’t have a problem with your being Mormon, but I want to ask you how you would deal with Islamic jihadists…or with illegal immigration…or how you would choose justices for the Supreme Court…,” and so on.

While Jerry Falwell never told me how he intended to vote in the upcoming election, I think I know how he would not have voted.  I also know he would not have “sat this one out” and given up on the Supreme Court for a generation.

I am wholeheartedly convinced that Mitt Romney can be trusted to uphold the values and principles most important to me as a political conservative and an evangelical Christian.  Again, I am not being paid, and I am not interested in a job in a Romney Administration (I would not accept one even if offered, as I’m still raising three teenagers).  Neither is my public relations firm involved in any way.  I am involved because I believe the stakes are high, perhaps higher than ever before in my life.

In closing, I would respectfully urge fellow conservatives and evangelicals to consider doing the following:

1.  Pray fervently for this election.

2.  Follow the news and the primary calendar; being familiar with the process and aware of the urgency of the schedule.

3.  Encourage people to vote and not “sit this one out,” merely because they aren’t excited about a candidate.

4.  Encourage people to support the candidate who best represents their values; whether or not they share your theology.

5.  Galvanize support around Mitt Romney, so Rudy Giuliani isn’t the unintended beneficiary of our divided support among several other candidates-or, worse yet, so we don’t abdicate the presidency (and the future of the Supreme Court) over to Hillary Clinton.

I believe we can make a difference-the difference in this election-and if Mitt Romney should become the 44th president of the United States, I’m confident he won’t forget how he got there.  I hope you’ll join me.  Thank you for your consideration of these things.

/rmd

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