Social conservatives are fighting back against Republican claims that they are to blame for the party’s recent losses.
The GOP establishment’s recent plan has been to move more libertarian on social issues, with evangelicals quietly going along, Politico reports. But evangelicals aren’t playing along.
“Look, the Republican Party isn’t going to change,” former Sen. Rick Santorum told Politico
. “We’re not the Libertarian Party, we’re the Republican Party.”
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said that evangelicals either held their noses and voted for the party’s recent moderate presidential candidates – or they sat home.
“If all of the evangelicals had showed up, it may have made a difference,” he said.
But many GOP leaders fear they are losing elections because they aren’t reaching out to younger and minority voters. They see changing their stance on issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion as key to bringing in those voters, who increasingly say they favor those issues.
Acceptance of gay marriage is up even among young evangelicals, according to recent polling.
“You win in politics by broadening your appeal, not narrowing it to white guys over 60,” Republican strategist Mike Murphy, told Politico “And gay marriage is becoming a litmus test issue for voters under 35.”
But voters such as Lisa Van Riper, who heads South Carolina Citizens for Life, said she would leave the party if the GOP moves too far left.
“I know what I’ll do — I’ll go vote for somebody else,” Van Riper said. “I vote on issues, I don’t align on party.”
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