- (Photo: REUTERS/Jim Young)
- (Photo: REUTERS/Darren Hauck)
As evangelical groups begin to line up for Mitt Romney, indications are clear many are worried that Romney's pro-life and traditional marriage positions will dissolve under the pressure of leading the nation if he is elected. And they are saying so.
Dr. Richard Land leads the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and is one of the nation's foremost authorities on the role of religion in American politics and how it impacts the way both Christians and non-Christians vote.
"As I've said for many months, Gov. Romney's Mormon faith is not his greatest obstacle," Land told The Christian Post. "The concern of most Christians is that Romney may not be Mormon enough because he has waffled on the issues of abortion and traditional marriage. Both are basic tenants of the Mormon faith as well as Christianity."
In the wake of former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's decision to suspend his presidential campaign, another noted conservative activist is advising evangelicals not to jump on Romney's bandwagon too quickly.
"As soon as Rick Santorum suspended his campaign, some conservatives were quick to endorse Mitt Romney. They got it exactly backwards – conservatives should not be rushing to embrace Romney; Romney should be rushing to embrace conservatives," said Richard Viguerie of ConservativeHQ.com in a written statement.
"Santorum set a good example when he suspended his campaign without endorsing Mitt Romney," Viguerie added. "Like Rick, many other conservative activists and leaders are sitting on the sidelines waiting for some concrete actions from Romney to prove that he actually wants conservative support."
In what from the outside appears to be a focused and well-disciplined campaign, Romney has seemingly walked a tightrope on the controversial social issues of abortion and same-sex marriage, saying he has changed his position on both issues.
When he was running for Massachusetts's governor in 2002, Romney was asked in a Planned Parenthood questionnaire, "Do you support the substance of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade and do you support efforts to increase access to emergency contraception?" He answered "yes" to both.
On his official campaign website for his 2012 presidential run, Romney addresses both abortion and marriage and seeks to convince voters he is firmly in their camp.
"Mitt believes that life begins at conception and wishes that the laws of our nation reflected that view," his campaign website reads. "But while the nation remains so divided, he believes that the right next step is for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade – a case of blatant judicial activism that took a decision that should be left to the people and placed it in the hands of unelected judges. With Roe overturned, states will be empowered through the democratic process to determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate."
But to Romney's credit and with Santorum out of the race and conservative groups realizing their only chance at advancing their causes may rest with Romney, key endorsements from conservative groups are starting to appear.
On Thursday, the Susan B. Anthony List, whose mission it is to elect candidates and pursue policies that will reduce and end abortion, announced their official endorsement of Romney.
"Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the U.S.," Susan B. Anthony VP of Government Affairs Marilyn Musgrave told The Christian Post.
"Mitt Romney has spoken on many occasions how he will defund Planned Parenthood. I don't think many people understand how much pressure he is going to take from groups such as Emily's List and others who support killing babies."
"I understand Gov. Romney has changed his position on abortion but we welcome anyone who converts over to the pro-life cause," Musgrave added. "But our board has no doubt he will stand up for the unborn after he is elected in November."
The issue of marriage may be where Romney has taken the most criticism from social conservatives. In her book Can Mitt Romney Serve Two Masters, author Tricia Erickson writes about a 2007 meeting Romney had with the gay GOP group, Log Cabin Republicans, at a gay bar in Boston that was discussed in a New York Times article the same year.
"When the discussion turned to a court case on same-sex marriage that was then wending its way through the state's judicial system, he (Romney) said he believed that marriage should be limited to the union of a man and a woman," the article said.
"But according to several people present, he promised to obey the courts' ultimate ruling and not champion a fight on either side of the issue."
When a noted social conservative Congressman who did not want to speak on the record was asked about this quote, the Congressman replied, "See this is the kind of stuff that hurts Romney. I'm glad he believes marriage should be between one man and one woman. What I want to know is will he fall on his sword for it? That's why some conservatives are still a bit nervous about his candidacy."