Romney’s Quiet Courtship of the Christian Right

I think we’ve all figured that beneath the economic monomania of the Romney campaign’s message, there have been serious and ongoing efforts to communicate a broader agenda to the majority of conservative activists who actually care less about the performance of the economy than a hundred other things, from outlawing abortion to privatizing education to “entitlement reform” to the “Islamic Threat,” and on and on.

But you sure don’t read much about these communications. So this report from Christian Right journalist David Brody of CBN is very interesting:

The Brody File has learned that Mitt Romney’s campaign has begun a serious push to engage evangelical leaders behind the scenes, including weekly meetings, personal phone calls from Romney, discussions about appearing at more faith-based events, and serious dialogue about convening a gathering this fall with national evangelical leaders.

In just the last few weeks, Mitt Romney has spoken on the phone a couple times with popular evangelical pastor Rick Warren, and there have been efforts to try and schedule a face-to-face meeting between Romney and Dr. James Dobson, one of the most respected evangelical leaders in the country.

Peter Flaherty, a senior advisor for the Romney campaign, has been the main liaison when it comes to outreach within the conservative Christian community. He has spoken and met with numerous influential conservative Christian leaders, including regular meetings with Jim Daly, Tim Goeglin and Tom Minnery from Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, President Ralph Reed with the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Dr. Richard Land with The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Rev. Sammy Rodriguez with the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Gary Bauer with American Values, Bob Reccord with the Council for National Policy, and Mark Rodgers, a former senior advisor to Rick Santorum.

Man, what a rogue’s gallery that last list involves! According to Brody, though, the courtship has been going on for years. I love this anecdote:

During a private meeting at his home in the Boston suburbs in 2006, Ann and Mitt Romney visited with more than a dozen evangelical leaders, including Franklin Graham, the late Jerry Falwell, Richard Land, Jay Sekulow, Frank Wright, and Gary Bauer.

They sat in a circle and ate sandwiches while discussing topics like the fight against radical Islam, stem cell research, and Romney’s Mormon faith. About a month later, all the evangelical attendees received a giant box. Inside was a chair with a brass plate on the back of it. Inscribed on the plate was Romney’s signature with the words, ‘There will always be a seat for you at our table.’

Nice touch, eh?

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.