WASHINGTON – Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain was pressed by an influential conservative pro-family group Monday to clarify his stance on marriage and life as it relates to his party's existing platform.
McCain was asked to be more clear and firm on whether he supported the GOP's platform supporting an amendment to the U.S. constitution that would define marriage as between one man and one woman.
Although McCain said he did support the GOP's position on marriage on Fox News' "Hannity and Colmes" last week, amendment supporters question his sincerity when he spoke about taking a federalist approach to the issue in which each state would set up its own legal definition of marriage.
"Last Thursday night, Senator McCain tepidly endorsed the GOP's platform concerning the protection of life and the preservation of marriage," said Connie Mackey, Family Research Council Action's senior vice president, in a statement.
"His response to this question as well as his federalist position regarding the definition of marriage leads one to believe that his endorsement is not definitive."
The FRC Action vice president urged McCain to make it clear that he will maintain the Republican platform on marriage and life. The GOP supports a Human Life Amendment to the U.S. constitution that would provide legal protection for unborn children and outlaw abortion.
"When the reality of successful constitutional challenges threatens the family, the cornerstone of society, then the federal government needs to provide the foundation to guide the states," Mackey argues.
Pro-life groups have also pointed out that McCain has been unclear in his support for the party's pro-life platform. McCain has said he wanted to maintain the GOP position but change it to allow abortion in the rare case of rape or incest. Also, the Arizona senator supports funding for embryonic stem cell research, which opponents liken to abortion because the embryo is destroyed in the process.
"John McCain should let us know that he understands there can be no 'common ground' between people who think it should be legal to kill babies before they are born and those who wish to protect their lives," Colleen Parro of the Republican National Coalition for Life said to LifeNews.com recently.
"If John McCain wants to unify the Party in order to win in November, he must begin by stating his unequivocal support for the pro-life plank," she added.
The Republican convention this summer will re-examine the party's platform on abortion, funding for embryonic stem cell research, and other contentious issues in Minneapolis.
As the presumed GOP nominee, McCain is facing an uphill battle to win over his party's social conservatives – an important voting bloc – who accuse him of being moderate and even liberal on the key "values voter" issues of life and marriage. His political stance on these issues as well as his friendly relationship with many Democrats has drawn the ire of well-known conservative radio talk show hosts and Christian right leaders.
But nationally, McCain seems to be doing well. A Gallup poll released Tuesday showed McCain has the highest favorable rating of any of the three major candidates running for president. Sixty-seven percent of Americans, a jump from 41 percent this past summer, said they have a favorable view of McCain. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll on Tuesday showed that he would be in a statistical dead heat in matchups with popular Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
If Obama wins the Democratic nomination, he would capture 47 percent of the vote compared to 46 percent by McCain – a statistical tie given the poll's three percent point margin of error, according to CNN. A matchup with Clinton would give her 49 percent of the vote compared to McCain's 47 percent – again a statistical tie – the poll suggests.
"The fact that McCain is currently holding his own on the economy with the two Democratic candidates does help to explain why the general election matchups are so close even though most Americans think the country is in a recession," CNN polling director Keating Holland commented.
The economy is currently the top concern for many Americans and is most often cited as the biggest problem facing the nation, according to a Gallup Poll in March.
But ethical and moral issues remained among the top 10 most popular concerns listed by Americans according to the Gallup survey.