Focus on Family’s Dobson Condemns Fred Thompson on Gay Marriage
James Dobson, one of the nation’s most politically influential evangelical Christians, made it clear in a message to friends this week he will not support Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson.
In a private e-mail obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, Dobson accuses the former Tennessee senator and actor of being weak on the campaign trail and wrong on issues dear to social conservatives.
"Isn’t Thompson the candidate who is opposed to a Constitutional amendment to protect marriage, believes there should be 50 different definitions of marriage in the U.S., favors McCain-Feingold, won’t talk at all about what he believes, and can’t speak his way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail?’’ Dobson wrote.
"He has no passion, no zeal, and no apparent ’want to.’ And yet he is apparently the Great Hope that burns in the breasts of many conservative Christians? Well, not for me, my brothers. Not for me!’’
The founder and chairman of Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, Dobson draws a radio audience in the millions, many of whom who first came to trust the child psychologist for his conservative Christian advice on child-rearing.
Gary Schneeberger, a Focus on the Family spokesman, confirmed that Dobson wrote the e-mail. Schneeberger declined to comment further, saying it would be inappropriate because Dobson’s comments about presidential candidates are made as an individual and not as a representative of Focus on the Family, a nonprofit organization restricted from partisan politics.
Dobson’s strong words about Thompson underscore the frustration and lack of unity among Christian conservatives about the GOP field. Some Christian right leaders have pinned their hopes on Thompson, describing him as a Southern-fried Ronald Reagan. But others have voiced doubts in recent weeks about some of the same issues Dobson highlighted: his position on gay marriage and support for the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation.
Dobson and other Christian conservatives support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would bar gay marriage nationally. Thompson has said he would support a constitutional amendment that would prohibit states from imposing their gay marriage laws on other states, which falls well short of that.
Karen Hanretty, a spokeswoman for the Thompson campaign, said Wednesday in response to the Dobson e-mail: "Fred Thompson has a 100 percent pro-life voting record. He believes strongly in returning authority to the levels of government closest to families and communities, protecting states from intrusion by the federal government and activist judges.
"We’re confident as voters get to know Fred, they’ll appreciate his conservative principles, and he is the one conservative in this race who can win the nomination and can go on to defeat the Democratic nominee.’’
In his e-mail addressed "Dear friends,’’ Dobson includes the text of a recent news story highlighting Thompson’s statement that while he was baptized in the Church of Christ, he does not attend church regularly and won’t speak about his faith on the stump.
U.S. News and World Report quoted Dobson earlier this year as questioning Thompson’s commitment to the Christian faith - comments Dobson contended were not put in proper context. Dobson in this week’s e-mail writes that suppositions "about the former senator’s never having professed to be a Christian are turning out to be accurate in substance.’’
Earlier this year, Dobson said he wouldn’t back John McCain because of the Arizona senator’s opposition to a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Later, Dobson wrote on a conservative news Web site that he wouldn’t support former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani should he win the Republican nomination. Dobson called Giuliani an "unapologetic supporter of abortion on demand’’ and criticized him for signing a bill in 1997 creating domestic-partnership benefits in New York City.
Last week, Dobson announced on his radio show that the IRS had cleared him of accusations that he had endangered his organization’s nonprofit status by endorsing Republican candidates in 2004. The IRS said Dobson, who endorsed President Bush’s re-election bid, was acting as an individual and not on behalf of the nonprofit group.