Richard Land: Evangelicals Will Vote for Romney

Thursday, 04 Oct 2012 08:42 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Dr. Richard Land, a leading figure in the influential Southern Baptist Convention, tells Newsmax.TV that social conservatives and evangelical Christians to vote for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in large numbers on Nov. 6.

“The idea that evangelicals and social conservatives were not warmed up to Romney has always been a misconception,” Land tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Denver. “The misconception was fed by the fact that in the primaries, evangelicals and social conservatives tended to support Rick Santorum more than they did Mitt Romney.

“But that’s misleading because most people would lose a popularity contest to Rick Santorum among evangelicals and social conservatives. He is a hero of the movement.

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“To be pro-Santorum does not mean that you are anti-Romney – and I’ve said all along that we’re electing a commander in chief, not a pastor in chief, and most evangelicals would vote for Mitt Romney if the alternative were Barack Obama – and the polls show that that is true.”

The story continues below the video.

Land is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the largest Protestant body in the United States, with more than 16 million members. He was appointed by President George W. Bush to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a government body.

As one of the leading voices of the SBC, Land’s views on the GOP primary race are significant because the SBC’s membership has been a key constituency of the Republican Party’s national coalition that has given it electoral success for congressional and presidential races.

Land is pleased that the former Massachusetts governor is not discussing such social issues as abortion and same-sex marriage in his campaign.

“This economy is so bad that it’s taking up all of the oxygen in the room – and this election is going to be decided by that 20 percent in the middle who are independents, who are the least engaged, the least interested and the least informed,” Land said.

“The 20 percent in the middle are the ones who are going to decide this election, and Mr. Romney is being very wise in focusing on the issues that are going to matter the most to that 20 percent.”

He also added that the national Republican Party should “stay neutral” in the Missouri Senate race between embattled GOP Rep. Todd Akin and incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill.

Many in the GOP, including Romney, had called on Akin to withdraw from the race. Recent polling has shown McCaskill leading.

But Akin has recently picked up endorsements from former presidential candidate Rick Santorum and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Former House Speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich also has raised money for Akin.

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“That’s a very important senate seat,” Land said. “It’s one that everyone expected the Republicans to win because the Democratic incumbent is extraordinarily weak. But the minute the national Republican establishment got behind Akin again, the Democrats would immediately, at the national level, try to resurrect all of the issues about a ‘War on Women’ and all of the things that they use to try to boost the turnout amongst single women.

“They thought about Romney having a gender gap. The gender gap is with single women, not with married women. A majority of married women support him, but there’s a huge gap among single women.

“The Republican Party at the national level should probably stay neutral – and if Mr. Akin is going to win, he needs to win the way he won the primary, with grassroots support from within the state.”

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