Supporters of former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee will meet with presumptive Republican nominee John McCain on Wednesday to persuade him not to name former campaign rival Mitt Romney as his running mate.
McCain is tentatively scheduled to meet with about 10 social conservative activists and religious leaders from Michigan, according to The Detroit News. Another group of about 40 Huckabee supporters will meet separately with a McCain campaign liaison, said Debra Matney, a Huckabee supporter who is helping to organize the meeting.
Leah Yoon, a McCain campaign spokeswoman, confirmed that the Republican candidate plans to meet with “grass-roots and faith-based leaders” during his visit to Michigan on Wednesday.
McCain’s vice presidential pick is expected to be a major point of discussion at both meetings. Although McCain has remained tight-lipped on his vice presidential selection process, insiders say Romney is among the short list for the position.
But Matney said the Michigan activists and religious leaders want Huckabee to be on the ticket, but if that is not possible, then they want Romney not to be on it.
Romney, a Michigan native, was popular among conservatives earlier in the primaries. But then Huckabee became the favorite for conservative voters given his consistent record of conservative stances, his ability to weave biblical references into speeches and his deadpan sense of humor.
Many conservatives had expressed hesitation on voting for Romney because of his relatively recent conversion to social conservative stances on abortion and gay “marriage.”
Moreover, some Christian voters are uncomfortable with his Mormon faith, which they consider not only non-Christian but even a cult.
According to Matney, some Huckabee supporters will not vote for McCain if Romney is his vice president.
“That’s not the sentiment of everybody,” she said. “(But) we would certainly rather have somebody other than Romney on the ticket. Who he chooses will speak volumes to us.”
In Ohio, another group of social conservatives are also declaring they do not want a McCain-Romney ticket.
“Christians are praying earnestly for the right person,” said Diane Stover, an Ohio-resident who was a delegate for the Huckabee campaign, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
“McCain wouldn’t have been our person. But we definitely feel like it would be a huge help to John McCain to pick someone we can be confident will represent the value-voter position. I don’t think it helps him at all in Ohio if he picks Romney.”
McCain, according to Stover, is not a “real conservative,” but she and other conservatives she knows will vote for him in November because, among other things, of his consistent anti-abortion voting record.
Stover and other conservatives are trying to form the group Social Conservatives Against Romney. They say they hope their group will spread to other states.