Prominent evangelical leader and Southern Baptist Dr. Richard Land said, as of now, social conservatives do not have a top tier presidential Republican candidate they can be fully comfortable voting for.
Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, says top Republican runner New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will not win the vote of social conservatives because he supports abortion rights and gay rights. Another setback for Giuliani is that he has been married three times, Land pointed out in an interview with Washington, D.C.'s, The Hill newspaper.
According to the latest Gallup/USAToday poll, however, Giulani's support among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents has increased with 40 percent now saying they are most likely to support the New York mayor.
Still, Land highlighted the reality of politics in the early 21st century, warning GOP candidates that they can "no more win without conservative voters than a Democrat can without overwhelming support from blacks."
And if Giuliani does win, Land said "he'll do so without social conservatives."
Regarding former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Land said Romney has to "convince" social conservatives about his converted stance to pro-life and to opposing same-sex marriage. His Mormon faith has been a major subject of interest to the public but Land does not believe his religion is a "deal-killer."
In A Mormon in the White House?: 10 Things Every Conservative Should Know About Mitt Romney, author Hugh Hewitt cautions Christians to be careful about conversations around Romney's Mormonism. If orthodox Christians attack the unorthodox aspects of Mormonism at this time, Hewitt says it would likely "open the door to a renewal of anti-Christian bigotry in this country the likes of which we haven't seen in a long time."
And Hewitt states that Romney has been staunchly pro-life for several years and is "the most effective American-elected official in the effort to preserve traditional marriage."
Sen. John McCain, who currently has the second highest Republican backing with 24 percent, according to the Gallup poll, has shown signs of unpredictability in the view of social conservatives, Land indicated.
On the second tier of Republican presidential candidates are Kansas Senator Sam Brownback and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. And while reports say these two hopefuls are considered long-shots at this point, Land indicated that they already have social conservative backing.
"They just have to convince other social conservatives they can win," Land told The Hill, adding that impressive fundraising or gains in the polls could help them.
"I wouldn't be all that discouraged," said Land, referring to those who support Brownback.
Land is due out with a book entitled The Divided States of America? What Liberals and Conservatives Are Missing in the God-and-Country Shouting Match in April.