Skip to comments.Brownback Seeks 2008 Conservative Mantle
Posted on 12/05/2006 8:47:32 AM PST by meg88
Brownback seeks 08 conservative mantle By Alexander Bolton
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) yesterday established a presidential exploratory committee, seeking to fill what conservatives say is an absence of strong conservative leadership among top-tier Republican White House candidates.
Brownback immediately sought to position himself as the leading social conservative of the 2008 field.
I have decided, after much prayerful consideration, to consider a bid for the Republican nomination for the presidency, Brownback said in a statement. There is a real need in our country to rebuild the family and renew our culture and there is a need for genuine conservatism and real compassion in the national discussion.
Brownback, along with outgoing Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), has in recent years been the Senates most vocal advocate of social conservatives agenda on abortion and related issues.
Brownbacks appeal to social conservatives could help him become the leading alternative to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the perceived frontrunner.
The way I see the race shaping up is that its going to be McCain against someone whos not McCain, said David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union. McCain has a lot of people in the party who dont like him.
McCain has opposed his party on key issues such as tax cuts, campaign finance reform, gun control and global warming stances that won the admiration of the nations media elite, whom conservatives distrust.
Brownback is the third Republican member of Congress to create an exploratory committee. McCain and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) have both established such panels, as has former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
McCain, Giuliani and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is expected to set up an exploratory committee soon, are considered by Republican insiders and political analysts as the top tier. Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister popular with social conservatives, is also among the upper echelon of GOP candidates.
The two Republican officials who were thought to have the best chance of becoming the conservatives choice candidate, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), have both dropped out of contention. Frist announced last week that he would not run, and Allen lost his reelection bid in an upset after a dismal campaign that did much damage to his long-term appeal.
Social conservatives are wary of McCain for his stance on campaign finance, of Romney for his views on abortion, and of Giuliani because of his beliefs on both abortion and homosexual rights.
Many are gravitating toward Huckabee because of his experience as a minister, but Huckabee has alienated small-government fiscal conservatives because he raised taxes as governor.
The three most prominent aspirants, McCain, Giuliani, and Romney, are expected to run as centrists, even though they are all now working hard to court conservative support.
Each of those three is going to run toward the center of the Reagan coalition, said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, a leader of libertarian small-government conservatives, who hosts a weekly meeting of prominent activists. McCain despite his apostasy is trying to get in the right place on guns and taxes; Romney is trying to run as a more conservative candidate [and] Giuliani I assume will do the same thing when he gets in the race.
Norquist criticized Huckabees record on fiscal issues.
He keeps raising taxes, Norquist said, then alluded to Huckabees authorship of a book on his personal weight loss. He has raised taxes more than once. The one thing Huckabee is known for is that hes lost lots of weight. I would prefer a fat guy with a skinny budget.
Tom McClusky, vice president of government affairs for the Family Research Council, one of the most influential conservative advocacy groups in Washington, said Giuliani has been historically pro-gay rights and pro-abortion.
McCain, he said, has been moderately pro-life and supported issues adamantly opposed by social conservatives, such as embryonic stem-cell research and fetal- tissue research.
Romney, who declared his support for abortion rights during an unsuccessful 1994 Senate race, has a spotty record on life, said McCluskey, who said Romney is now certainly coming around on the issue, which we hope he will, and he has good people working for him.
McClusky said Brownback might be able to fill a conservative leadership void among top-tier candidates. But even if he does not win the nomination, Brownback could have a major impact on the Republican primary by defining the debate on abortion and other related life issues, he said.
Paul Weyrich, chairman of the Free Congress Foundation, who hosts a weekly meeting of influential social conservatives, acknowledged the perceived weakness of conservative credentials among the GOPs presidential frontrunners. He said Brownback or Huckabee could fill the role of a strong socially conservative candidate.
Brownbacks candidacy potentially gives us a vehicle and there may be others, like Gov. Huckabee of Arkansas, who many favor because hes a former preacher and is mesmerizing in his speaking ability.
Weyrich said that he and other conservative leaders would meet with and question leading presidential candidates to understand their views.
If we can, were gong to try to get behind one of them, said Weyrich. If we do, we can give one of the candidates a considerable boost and could kick one of them to the top tier.
Conservative leaders uniting behind Brownback could push him to the final stages of the GOP primary or perhaps to the nomination.
But Keene, who is also columnist for The Hill, said Brownbacks strength is also his weakness. He may appeal to social conservatives but faces the challenge of having to win over a broader spectrum of Republicans.
His reach doesnt go much beyond the social conservative base, said Keene. To run a viable candidacy you have to do more than that. At least Brownback has a claim that none of the others have on that segment of the movement. His challenge will be to get other conservatives, [such as] anti-tax people.
Keene said Brownback is better known by conservative voters than other Republicans positioning themselves as alternatives to McCain. He cited former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore as examples.
Keene said conservatives are afraid of McCain because of his past stances on tax cuts and campaign finance reform, and because he has a reputation for doling out political retribution.
Conservatives are afraid of him because they think he doesnt like them and goes after most people he doesnt like, said Keene.
Sam is a very nice guy whom I will choose over my other current choices, but many things about him disturb me. He is a compassionate conservative. He believes it is the government's job to clean up the messes people make of their lives. I strongly disagree. That idea always leads to socialism, and it is a denial of the core of human nature -- a sin nature. It is because of that nature that we must build a true freedom that leaves a strong connection between sowing and reaping, or cause and effect if you like that terminology better.
I agree with your views. Sam also makes a former Kansas Senator and presidential nominee look charismatic and exciting. He has about as much chance of being elected president as Hillary Clinton has of being elected Governor of Kansas.
He lacks charisma.
Beats the heck out of Giuliani, Romney and McCain.
Actually he doesn't lack charisma. He is my senator so I know. As people see him they will discover a very humble, dear personality that is quite easy to like. He doesn't draw you in immediately, but only as you get to know him. It's not the charisma issue that bothers me.
I think Sam is running mainly to be considered for veep, not a bad gamble if he doesn't get into too much debt!
But not Duncan Hunter. Hunter is my congressman and is responsible for the border fence getting built in San Diego. Brownback is a open borders type in the McCain / Kennedy mold. Hunter is far better in the war on terror because he understands the importance of stopping terrorists at the border.
Don't you think the immigration issue will be lost in the next two years with the 'rats in Congress and Bush in the WH? I don't think the next Prez will have much opportunity for damage left. We will see.
mega bump. Sorry Senator. If true, my vote's going elsewhere.
Brownback sounds like a hideous spider or a homosexual act.
And Vilsack sounds like a body part that could be involved in brownbacking.
The late night idiots will have a field day.
The odds are not good. Furthermore, I don't have enough data to suggest how well he would do against Hillary.
Everyone keeps overlooking Hunter. I wouldn't be surprised to see him shoot to the top.
If he does well in Iowa the big money will come.
Me too if I get a better alternative. So far no. They all claim to be fiscally responsible, even the Democrats. But look at their records. They are all big spenders. They want to prove their own compassion and glorify themselves with your money and mine.
Brownback is better than the other alternatives at this point.
I agree! I saw Brownback during a debate on stem-cell research at Harvard, and I was so impressed. He has a quiet personality, but definitely likable.
I will have a hard time choosing between him and Mitt, I think they'd make a great President-VP team...
Nah. They will be too busy having fun with Mr. Barak Hussein Obama-nation.
LOL! That's exactly what I always thought!
If he runs, he'll lock up the critical FR Perpetually Pissed-Off Puritan vote. ;)
Not me. Mitt is a phony conservative. He was #8 on the top RINO list in 2005 as named in Human Events. Mitt is a social liberal who is good at verbal gymnastics. Brownback is at least honest. You can take what he says to the bank.