Right Faith or Right Policy?

McCain is set to announce his vice presidential running mate tomorrow. As far as we can tell, his short list is an interesting one. Mitt Romney, Tom Ridge, Tim Pawlenty and Joe Leiberman seem to be the most talked about possibilities. From my perspective, Tim Pawlenty carries with him the least baggage and is probably McCain’s safest pick in a political sense. While both he and Romney are the only ones on the short list who would make social conservatives happy (both pro-life while Ridge and Leiberman are not), Pawlenty doesn’t bring with him the trickiness of Romney’s Mormon faith. Romney is certainly a more seasoned politician with more experience in government and will also be a feisty debater and good attack dog for McCain. He’s also a stronger fund-raiser. The possible downside for Romney is how his faith will affect the votes of the conservative Christian base that McCain hopes to have behind him in November.

If it is Romney then it will be really fascinating to see how the religious right will respond. The question then becomes, “What’s more important?” Right religious belief or right socially conservative policy? If one takes a look at Romney’s policies in regard to the concerns of the religious right without knowing anything about his Mormonism, they would be very supportive. But while the “pro-life” and “pro-family” agenda are firmly supported by Romney, will conservative evangelicals be able to look the other way when considering his faith?

Will they respond they way James Dobson did in the primary campaign and just take their ball and go home feeling bitter and left out? Or will they keep their eye on the “pro-life” ball and take one for the team in order to win?

For most voters, I don’t think the VP selections really make a huge impact. But most voters don’t live in a isolationist, religious mindset that is constantly aware of the “false religions” who threaten to diminish their market share of American religion. Maybe these folks are too small of a minority to really make a difference in the end. Maybe McCain should abandon this whole issue and just pick Ridge or Leiberman in order to draw from the well of the independent voters?

Either way, I’m on pins and needles and hoping for some fireworks.

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5 thoughts on “Right Faith or Right Policy?

  1. Hi, I’ve been reading your blog from a distance for quite awhile now. I actually had already thought he had selected a VP. I use mail2web to check my email and for several days they were running ads with McCaing and Leiberman. I don’t remember what the ad said but I tried to see if the ad would run after reading your blog and it’s not showing up now.

    Wonder if they ran it on accident?

  2. Thanks for the comment, Cindy. I think he’s now made his decision but we might have to wait until tonight to hear who it is. I would be really surprised if Leiberman was the choice.

  3. I think the lure of the “ring of power” has taken hold in the “Church of America” and while there will be loud grumbling,I think they will ultimately go with McCain regardless of VP choice. Even Dobson is coming back around for him. Falwell, who arguably started this whole “religious right “thing, went a long way in reconciling Catholics and Evangelicals. If they feel like they can hold on to power by voting for a Mormon/pro choice VP, they will. I think in some respects their politics have moved past abortion/gay marriage and morphed into some weird nationalistic/militaristic religion that I don’t recognize.

  4. i used to be uncomfortable with romney because of the mormon thing. i have gotten over that. i think he would be the best choice for mccain to appeal to the conservative base and it’s someone who has had experience being a governer and can understand the other side because he used to me a lot more liberal. but at the same time the dems might use that against mccain. but who knows.

  5. Miss Alaska Runner up, Gov Sarah Palin, “She hunts, eats moose hamburger, ice fishes, rides snowmobiles, and owns a float plane and holds a lifetime membership with the National Rifle Association.” Wow, let the fireworks begin!

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