The gathering of more than 100 evangelical Christian leaders and activists in rural Texas this weekend was an 11th-hour effort to unite "movement conservatives" behind a rival to Mitt Romney and demonstrate their own power within the Republican Party.
Instead, it may well be a revelation of their weakness as a force within the GOP. Because if Romney still wins the South Carolina primary next weekend, this final flailing attempt to stop him will make his victory all the more important — and his eventual nomination all the more inevitable.
The GOP presidential candidate forum held Saturday in Charleston, S.C., was not exactly a debate. In fact, it was sort of the opposite of a debate.
The event was moderated by Fox News host and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. All the candidates except for Ron Paul attended, but they never actually shared the stage. They were explicitly prohibited from attacking — or even mentioning — each other.
Now, as the Romney campaign has been building momentum, religious conservatives remain deeply uncomfortable with him as the prospective Republican nominee. Today in Texas, evangelical leaders met. And as NPR's Joel Rose reports, they threw their support behind former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.
Originally published on Fri January 13, 2012 2:48 pm
Credit BRIAN SNYDER / Reuters /Landov
Bob Jones University used to be a "station of the cross for aspiring presidential candidates," NPR's Ari Shapiro reports on Friday's All Things Considered. Candidates like Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and Pat Buchanan all spoke at the school, a "bastion of the most conservative brand of evangelical Christianity," Shapiro says.
In Texas today, conservative Christian and evangelical leaders begin two days of meetings to discuss political strategy, and perhaps to coalesce around a Republican presidential candidate other than front-runner Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts.