Prominent Christian conservative Dr. James Dobson says he won't support much-hyped Republican Fred Thompson because he thinks the presidential hopeful is too weak on key issues important to social conservatives.
In a private e-mail to supporters this week, Dobson criticized Thompson's weak stance on the same-sex "marriage" issue. Thompson says he's in favor of each state deciding their own legal definition of marriage and prohibiting states from imposing their marriage laws on other state.
Dobson and other Christian conservatives support a much stronger position, demanding a constitutional amendment that would bar gay "marriage" nationally.
"Isn't Thompson the candidate who is opposed to the constitutional amendment to protect marriage, believes there should be 50 different definitions of marriage in the U.S., favors McCain-Feingold, won't talk at all about what he believes and can't speak his way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail?" Dobson wrote, according to The Associated Press.
Dobson is the founder of the conservative Colorado-based ministry Focus on the Family whose radio programs reach millions of conservative Americans.
The influential Christian leader acknowledged that some of his fellow evangelicals are rallying behind Thompson. But he declared that Thompson does not have his support.
"He (Thompson) has no passion, no zeal, and no apparent 'want to.' And yet he is apparently the Great Hope that burns in the breasts of many conservative Christians?" wrote Dobson.
"Not for me, my brothers. Not for me."
Thompson, who stopped in Dallas Thursday, brushed off Dobson's harsh criticisms.
"When someone who I never met or never had a conversation with says things, how do I know if I identify with that individual or not, or whether he has any basis for identifying with me?" said Thompson, according to the Dallas Morning News.
"It's a free country. If this e-mail reflects his views, so be it," said the presidential contender.
Thompson is also criticized for his seeming lack of commitment to Christianity. He said during a recent interview that he does not belong to a church where he lives in Virginia and does not attend church regularly.
Dobson has also said he won't support New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani or Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Giuliani is seen as too liberal with his support of abortion and gay rights, while McCain has refused to support a constitutional amendment banning gay "marriage."
Focus on the Family and other conservative Christian groups are sponsoring "The Washington Briefing 2007," a values voters summit in October that will feature presidential hopefuls including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), and Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.).
Thompson has not decided whether he will participate in the gathering.