(CNN) - James Dobson said Wednesday that presumptive Republican nominee John McCain had not been successful in uniting conservatives since capturing the nomination – and that recent moves by the senator instead “appear to be fracturing an increasingly divided constituency."
"I have seen no evidence that Sen. McCain is successfully unifying the Republican Party or drawing conservatives into his fold. To the contrary, he seems intent on driving them away,” said the Focus on the Family founder, in a statement to the Wall Street Journal.
He cited recent McCain remarks on global warming and torture, a speech in front of the influential conservative Council on National Policy that “thoroughly disappointed and irritated” many in attendance, and recent comments from a McCain adviser that the Arizona senator can win based his on his support from moderates and independents.
“That seems to be the strategy. These are not the policies and pronouncements of a man who is seeking to 'unify the party.' Indeed, they appear to be fracturing an increasingly divided constituency," wrote the evangelical leader.
The statements were some of Dobson’s most critical to date, though he stopped short of saying his followers should not vote for McCain.
The conservative Christian icon has long been cool to McCain. During the primary season, he spoke warmly of Republican rival Mitt Romney, and backed Mike Huckabee’s presidential bid.
UPDATE: McCain himself – who said he had not had a conversation with Dobson that could recall, but that he would be happy to speak with him – said Wednesday he respected him, but disputed his campaign assessment, adding that poll data showed he had greater support from his party than either of the Democratic candidates had from their own. (Watch McCain's comments)
“We continue to work with our conservative base, and I'm very proud - as I say –of the empirical data that shows we have very strong support amongst all elements of our party. And that's what we need to do to win,” he told CNN's Dana Bash on board the Straight Talk Express.
–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
I totally disagree, McCain is the one that need to lead the Republicans, and he will get the Regan Democrats as well if Hillary is not nominated. McCain is great!!!
A "Christian icon" who think McCain is wrong to oppose torture.
S'all I need to know.
The Republicans are as unhappy with McCain as the democrats are with an Obama win.
Hillary is the Centrist that can get the votes of most of the American people.
That is why when polled, the republicans are trying to trick the democrats into nominating Obama by responding that Obama would be stronger against McCain. This used to be called manipulative disinformation. Now it is called a poll and presentent as real news.
The Republicans will NEVER tell the democrats which Democrat is actually their biggest threat. That would be political suicide.
Why would they tip their hand? Why would they tell their democratic opponents who would beat their own very weak candidate?
More likely they are trying to get Hillary kicked out of the race so that their weak candidate can face the weaker democratic candidate.
Both the conservative and liberal extremists say they are not thrilled with John McCain. A candidate who remains true to his convictions. Sound likes the guy for me!
Americans for McCain '08
Of course, as a Democrat, McCain's speech and Dobson's contempt encourage me to vote for McCain - along with other disenchanted democrats and independents.
If you extreme righties cannot get over yourselves and come together with regard to McCain, go ahead an elect either one of the Socialists in disguise.
C'omon folks, a guy who toyed with the idea of becoming John Kerry's running mate!...this guy is as liberal as a conservative can be. McBush is only now speaking from both sides of his mouth that he is going to be tough on illegal immigration, tax cuts, etcetera!
So Dobson has a problem with McCain's position on torture? Which means Dobson is FOR torture?
Very Christian of you Dr. Dobson - you're one of the reasons the Republican party is in the shape its in today.
Why should speaking out against torture and believing in global warming fracture the GOP? I don't get it.
The fact that McCain isn't all that popular with conservatives is exactly what makes him a viable choice for all the democrats that do not want Obama.
The Hillary democrats would be okay with McCain- they are an older, more conservative demographic. They have no fear of serving in Iraq, and many own their own homes outright and many are in their comfortable peak-earning years.
When the Obama people say they will vote for McCain if Hillary is the nominee...well that just doesn't ring true. They are a younger, more radical and star-struck demographic. I can not see the Moveon.Org people voting for McCain. I don't the Obama supporters would make the big leapfrog jump from where they are (left) to where any republicn is (right).
So Hillary is the choice of the wise.
Dobson would call it an act of God if his home was destroyed by a hurricane. Is it an act of God when the ice melts away in the Antarctic?
As for torture, would this self-righteous demagogue think it's appropriate if someone practiced it on him or his family?
I'll give McCain or anyone else credit WHEN he sticks to his ideals.
John McCain: The American president Americans have been waiting for!
Only big business would want 4 more years of Bush.
Those dirty evangelicals!!
A vote for Hillary Clinton means never having to say you're sorry.
Are you kidding me! McCain's position on torture is fracturing the christian conservatives from the party. I realize that there maybe different ways to understand the bible but where does Jesus and God endorse torture. This is crazy. What a phony. Using peoples insecurities and a need to believe in something bigger than themselves to get rich and manipulate people to support your agenda. Shame Dobson and this crazy extreme right who has no business being called a "christian" conservative right. There will be a special place in hell for religious phonys like you!
The party this nut bag is in doesn't belong in politics. Anyone who believes this guy is relevant needs to find the nearest source of hemlock and make a very strong tea.
I'm glad Senator McCain is "fracturing the party." I can at the very least respect Republicans that don't want to make the Bible law, but at the same time realize that torture is not a Christian practice.
Dobson, no one with a mind of their own cares at all what you think or have to say.
I am an Obama supporter through and through, but I respect John McCain as a person and an American, and I am greatly refreshed that the Republican nominee this time around isn't someone I look at and think, "Are you flippin' serious, America??"
Listening to this Neanderthal Christian zealot whine reminds me of a petulant child who can't get what they want from their parents– an equally primitive candidate for the aging and happily soon-to-be extinct extreme right-wing of the Repellicans.
What! McCain should "unify" the conservative base by endorsing global warming and torture? This is laughable, and I don't most conservatives disagree with Senator McCain simply because of these two issues.
McCain is 'the Man', single-handedly doing what it takes two powerful Democrats (Hill-Bama) to do. He's ready-to-roll on Day 1!
You've got to be kidding me, right? Saying torture is bad and global warming may be a reality are DIVISIVE issues? The Republican party needs to step out of its outdated concepts and take a reality check. Wait, as a matter of fact, I hope they *dont* do that before the elections in '08. We need a Democrat to win and if the GOP can't even grasp basic scientific facts or accept the need to respect human rights, then they need a lot longer in the minority party.
Jimmy D your views are so far outside of the mainstream that you will be marginalized for the foreseeable future. Deal with it.
McCain is not a uniter, he's a Bush alike, my way or the highway.
Heh, who else are they going to vote for? The far-right certainly can't look to the left in their candidate...