The Brody File has been talking with pro-family leaders and activists and they all agree that if John McCain picks Florida Governor Charlie Crist as his running mate, there will be MAJOR dissatisfaction among social conservatives. Jim Backlin, a conservative activist with a hefty email list, told me:
"If the goal of the campaign is to shore up the base of the party, which is still critically needed, that pick would do exactly the opposite and many social conservatives, and conservatives in general, would sit on their hands this election."
Connie Mackay, Senior Vice President for FRCAction tells me:
“We have concerns about Governor Crist. While he claims to be pro-life he has not been an advocate…We would not be supportive of his candidacy for Vice-President…I think it would not help him. McCain needs to continue to try and energize the base. I think that would certainly not energize the base and I think I could go one step further and say it would de-energize the base.”
Another important pro-family activist, Kelly Shackelford, President of Liberty Legal Institute tells The Brody File:
“I don’t think there is any way that would happen. That would certainly put the last nail in the coffin for social and Christian conservatives, but it won’t happen. Sen. McCain has been fairly clear that he will pick a solid conservative. The big question to me is the CA marriage ruling. When will he hit the softball resting over the plate? It is a gift and, so far, he has not taken advantage of it. It combines two beliefs he has- marriage is a man and a woman AND judges should not be activists- and he could speak sincerely and with conviction. Silence. It’s baffling so far. This is even more so in light of Obama’s being in a no win position if he has to respond to the CA decision.”
Another pro-family leader who did not want to be named tells The Brody File:
"There would be an open revolt. We would just not put up with it. He's not one of us and McCain pretty much needs to get somebody that is going to make people happier if he seriously wants to hold the base to being supportive…There's a general assumption that McCain is not stupid enough."
Then there is this from a Republican strategist with strong conservative credentials:
"Crist would be a major asset and a liability to the ticket at the same time. He could help McCain lock up Florida, which would do great damage to Obama's chances in the general election, but would also cause indigestion among conservatives because of his moderate stances on abortion, the Terry Schiavo case, embryonic stem cell research, and climate change. So which is more important to McCain: conservatives, or Florida? We will know soon enough."
So why is Crist a problem for social conservatives? Well, first of all they don't believe he's pro-life. He says he's pro-life but in the past he's said he was pro-choice. Read more on that here. He has also supported civil unions. In addition, when the whole Terri Schiavo controversy exploded in Florida, Crist DID NOT side with pro-family groups who wanted him to take a more active role. He stayed on the sidelines.
Would McCain really pick Crist? It would be seen as a slap in the face to the Evangelical base yet McCain could look at it another way.
Let's face it. The general election is going to be won (just like every general election) by winning the Independent vote. McCain could pick Crist which would (as stated above) nail down the key state of Florida and at the same time be a signal to Independents to say that McCain is more of a centrist and WILL NOT pander to the Evangelical base. Independents will love that. The danger of course is that many Evangelicals will not vote in November. Decisions, decisions. This is a critical pick for McCain.