Social conservatives say they are determined to unite by summer or early fall behind a single presidential candidate who reflects their values, The New York Times
These conservatives are convinced that Barack Obama captured and kept the White House because Republican standard-bearers John McCain and Mitt Romney were too moderate.
"I think everybody understands — more, even, at the grass-roots level — that there has been a pattern, and the pattern needs to be broken," said conservative activist Gary Bauer.
Determined not to let divisions among social conservatives lead to the nomination of another comparative moderate — perhaps former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — the Christian right is meeting and holding teleconferences aimed at banding together behind a single viable candidate, the Times reported.
"It would be early for a group of leaders to come out for a candidate, but not too early for the conversations to begin," Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council told the Times.
Longtime conservative advocate Richard Viguerie said it would be difficult to stop Bush's presumed nomination unless social conservatives pulled together.
"My goal is to give the constituency access to candidates, then let them decide," said David Lane, whose American Renewal Project
has helped to bring pastors from around the country to sessions with potential candidates.
At a recent retreat in Dana Point, Calif. organized the Family Research Center, participants reportedly concluded that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was "the most viable candidate" with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin tied for second place, according to the Times.
Christian conservatives have also been looking favorably at Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, particularly since he announced his candidacy, the Times reported.
"Conservatives smell blood in the water. They feel they've got the best shot to deny the establishment a place," said Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway.
One woman who took part in efforts to identify a single candidate acceptable to social conservatives addressed Jindal with what sounded like a supplication: "I would love to see you godly leaders pray and fast and see who God would be anointing to raise up." Adding, "we would rally behind him. We cannot be so divided. Our money, our time, our loyalty is so divided."
Jindal responded: "Amen."
Republican moderates insist a hard-line nominee who excites the base would go down to a devastating defeat in the 2016 general election.
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