President Barack Obama has performed so poorly in the White House that the 2012 presidential election is the Republicans’ to lose, Southern Baptist leader Richard Land tells Newsmax.TV.
“Given the horrendous performance of this president in office, there is no way he can win re-election. But the Republicans can lose if they nominate the wrong person and they run a bad campaign,” said Land, who has been president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission since 1988.
Although Land said he would be happy to see former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey get into the race — both have said repeatedly that they won’t run in 2012 — he said the GOP slate of candidates includes some good choices.
Former Govs. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota “would be fine presidents. Both of them would be better presidents than Barack Obama,” Land said during an interview at the Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington, D.C., last weekend.
“I think the media is trying to do mind games on the American people,” Land said. “They know President Obama is weak. They know President Obama is in dire trouble. I think the field that’s running now is much stronger than the media would like Americans to think it is.”
Land said he was not surprised that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee decided not to run in 2012. “Mike’s a young man. Mike’s got plenty of time. He can wait four years or eight years.”
“Many Southern Baptists were mildly disappointed that he didn’t run, because it’s always nice to be able to vote for a Southern Baptist,” Land said. “But Tim Pawlenty is a Baptist, and so is Michele Bachmann.”
Americans care about a candidate’s particular faith background, as long as that candidate embraces some religion, Land suggested. Although he said an atheist, agnostic, or Muslim is not going to win over Americans, a candidate’s “moral character” is the voters’ main concern rather than the tenets of a politician’s denomination.
He believes that the GOP nominee should campaign against same-sex marriage.
“If Republicans out themselves on the side of traditional marriage and defending traditional marriage, then they’re on the right side of the issue, and it will help them at the polls.”
On foreign policy, Land said Obama’s recent call to Israel to return to its 1967 borders, with some land swaps, was “egregious, abysmal, and dangerous.”
“We showed disrespect to our strongest ally, the country we share more in common with than any other country in the world, including Great Britain,” Land said.
“The president has no idea how dangerous a game he is playing in a very dangerous part of a world.”
Obama’s policies are causing Israel to lose confidence in the United States and also leading other countries in the region to perceive the United States as weak.
“In the Middle East, they don’t root for the underdog,” he said. “In the Middle East, they are going to go for the strong horse.”
He added, “Clearly, for American Jews who are voting for President Obama, Israel is not a very high priority on their personal radar screen.”
Land said he fears that the massive anti-government protests sweeping the Middle East and North Africa could lead to violent uprisings where lawless mobs turn on minorities, such as Christians.
He also said he fears that the civil unrest could strengthen Iran’s position in the region.
“I’m afraid the Arab Spring could become the Iranian Winter,” Land said. “Iran is seeking to expand its influence in the region and become the dominant power in the region and they sense weakness in the United States.”
The United States should do everything in its power to encourage democracy in the region and ensure that there is no repeat of what happened with the Islamic revolution in Iran, he said.
“Iran started out as a secular, democratic revolution in 1979,” he said. “It was taken over by the mullahs and those who embrace violence.”
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