In an article offering a "'values voter' tally" of "the pros and cons of top GOP hopefuls" in the 2008 presidential campaign, Newsweek touted McCain's reversal on the Christian right -- first condemning Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as "agents of intolerance" then trying to "make amends" -- as a "pro" for him among "values voters," while Romney's "alleged flip-flops" on same-sex marriage and abortion rights "could really hurt" him among "[e]vangelicals."
In the February 26 edition of Newsweek magazine, White House correspondent Holly Bailey offered a " 'values voter' tally" of "the pros and cons of top GOP hopefuls" in the 2008 presidential campaign. The article listed one of Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) "pros" as: "After condemning Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as 'agents of intolerance' during his 2000 run, McCain has tried to make amends with the Christian right." However, the same article's profile of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney listed among Romney's "cons": "Evangelicals are skeptical of Romney's Mormon faith, but it's his alleged flip-flops that could really hurt. In his 1994 Senate and 2002 gubernatorial bids, Romney supported abortion rights and gay rights, positions he reversed as he prepared for a White House run."
Newsweek offered no explanation for reaching a different conclusion as to the effect on "values voters" of McCain's flip-flop on the Christian right versus that of Romney's "alleged flip-flops" on same-sex marriage and abortion rights.
Nor did the article note McCain's flip-flops and self-contradictions on abortion, one of the very factors Newsweek said could doom Romney with the Republican base. Claiming that another positive factor for McCain is his hiring of "a former Bush adviser, David Rexrode, to tout his conservative credentials, particularly his anti-abortion stance," Newsweek did not mention McCain's varying positions on the issue of whether Roe v. Wade should be overturned. As Media Matters for America noted, in 1999, McCain claimed that he would both support overturning and not support overturning Roe v. Wade and, in 2005, he claimed that he agreed "to some degree" that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. McCain also issued a statement in 2006 indicating that if he were the governor of South Dakota, he "would have signed" a controversial bill outlawing all abortions except in those situations in which the life of the woman is threatened, but that he "would also take the appropriate steps under state law -- in whatever state -- to ensure that the exceptions of rape, incest or life of the mother were included." As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman noted: "But that attempt at qualification makes no sense: the South Dakota law has produced national shockwaves precisely because it prohibits abortions even for victims of rape or incest."
From Bailey's Newsweek article:
THE RECONCILER: John McCain
PROS: After condemning Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as "agents of intolerance" during his 2000 run, McCain has tried to make amends with the Christian right. He spoke at Falwell's Liberty University last year and has consulted with noted evangelicals, including megachurch Pastor John Hagee in Texas. (This week Falwell will host a "meet and greet" at the National Religious Broadcasters convention on McCain's behalf.) He's even hired a former Bush adviser, David Rexrode, to tout his conservative credentials, particularly his anti-abortion stance.
CONS: Evangelicals are suspicious. They question McCain's opposition to a federal amendment to ban same-sex marriage. (McCain opposes gay marriage, but says the issue should be regulated by the states.) They haven't forgiven him for blocking the "nuclear option" in the Senate that would have forced an up or down vote on President Bush's judicial nominees. Last month Focus on the Family founder James Dobson vowed he would not vote for McCain "under any circumstances."
THE MORMON: Mitt Romney
PROS: Romney is against abortion and opposes same-sex marriage, and he's been aggressive in courting the Christian right. He's consulted with Falwell and Franklin Graham and is scheduled to deliver the graduation address at Robertson's Regent University this spring.
CONS: Evangelicals are skeptical of Romney's Mormon faith, but it's his alleged flip-flops that could really hurt. In his 1994 Senate and 2002 gubernatorial bids, Romney supported abortion rights and gay rights, positions he reversed as he prepared for a White House run. Last week Sam Brownback's campaign questioned his credibility.