(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 simply do not understand why Senator McCain does not understand your expertise on the issue of torture. I know Jesus was all for it, too.
As for reaching out to independents and Democrats, the last time I checked, they count equally to Republican votes. I would love to see Senator McCain garner 100% of the vote, but of course outside of an election for Saddam Hussein in Iraq, that doesn't happen. Personally, I don't care if it is a "holier-than-thou, self-righteous hypocrite's vote who cinches the nomination for Senator McCain or a radical liberal's.
Mr. Dobson, have you carefully examined Senator McCain's personal life? If so, you realize that he has walked the walk while many have merely talked the talk. If the shoe fits, wear it.
Perhaps the christian right wingers should create their own party. Then all of the hate filled Bible banging bigots could be under 1 tent.
This guy is a nut to me. I mean u have to go thru this guy to get the nomination for the repubs. Its sickening how they r hypocrites and bring religion into my politicxal process..Im tired of these nut jobs like him. I respect conservatives but not christian conservatives..
Let me get this straight.......Dobson, a Christian leader, is bashing McCain for a speech denouncing torture. Mr Dobson, what do you think Jesus' position would be on torture?
Once again the "Christian Right" is showing that it is neither Christian nor right.
I'm not a supporter of McCain at the moment, but I want to know what Dobson plans on doing about it. Really, if you are a conservative, what other option do you have for the upcoming election? You can vote for the Republican nominee, or you can try and find another candidate. The only other candidate that is likely to win the Presidential race is the Democratic nominee, and I can't see the conservatives finding that alternative acceptable.
Even though I plan to vote for Obama, I applaud John McCain for his stance on many issues that the Christian Right whine about. When James Dobson and Sky-Fairy-Believing organizations start paying taxes, then they can start griping about how political leaders who used to be in their pocket are now thinking for themselves. Would we even be giving James Dobson the time of day if he was practicing Scientology or still believed in Zeus and Apollo? I see no reason to take a second glance at a man who is simply having a temper tantrum over the realization that the United States is moving away from the Theocracy Under God that he so desires.
Oh, get real here folks.
Dobson and his ilk are a political wing of the GOP. Sure they will vote for McCain, because he is a warmonger with an R after his name.
Big surprise. Well, it's clear that at this point McCain needs to pick a religious conservative as his running mate. McCain would do very well if he campaigned to moderate Republicans and Independants while the likes of Mike Huckabee spent his energies on religious conservatives.
unify the party unify the party, that's all I ever hear.
how about UNIFY THE COUNTRY. after what Bush has done to us, we're going to need lots of handshaking and aisle crossing.
I'm a fairly conservative voter, and I grew up listening to James Dobson on the radio. With no disrespect intended, I have to say that his all or nothing stance towards conservatism is the divider here. We have two different sides with widely differing views (both sides have thought a lot about their views -it's not that they're uneducated or anything) and if we expect to get anything at all done, there's going to have to be some compromising. Either side may not like it, but that's the fact. I'm not crazy about McCain, but the fact that he wants to reach out to moderates and independents can hardly be seen as a negative thing in my opinion.
Maybe he isn't "fracturing" the party. Maybe he's realizing that evangelical ultra-conservative nutballs are becoming a powerless minority in this country and need to be moved off the political spectrum entirely.
The Repub. religious conservatives had their candidate in Huckabee and couldn`t get enough votes to stay close to McBush. Guess they will just have to skip voting or write in whomever they want , -- they can do that you know. - Better yet,- pray for the next president, whomever he may be.
Well, no one will fracture the Clinton/Nader ticket.
Go Hillary ! Go Nader!
Dobson is a liberal. Clinton/Nader is the ticket.
Is he insinuating that they couldn't find their pro-torture, pro-global warming candidate?
Maybe McCain can get a job as VP... when Hillary becomes the president.
Why does this actually make me like McCain more? ;-)
So this Dobson idiot blasts McCain because the man recognizes the threat of global warming and realizes that torture is bad, being a former POW himself?
Dobson, you are garbage.
You know...the Republican party used to stand for smaller government and lower taxes, not torture, socio-moral agendi, large corporations, and ultra-aggressive foreign policy. I'm a Christian, but it seems to me that it's James Dobson and his ilk fracturing the party and not McCain.
This is one fiscally conservative independent who'll be voting Democrat until the Republicans get back to their roots and out of the homes, minds, and bodies of the American People and the world.
McCain was a P.O.W. and so is Nader. Vote for Hillary in '08.
James Dobson...if you and your religious groups have such influence and power and your feeling left out, then create your own party....As the country looks and needs to change, so do the people on the left and right extremes of the politcal spectrum.
Ron, British Columbia
yes mr. dobson. you wouldn't want to fracture the party that has done such an outstanding job the past 8 years.
even republcians want change. Change is not McCain. They made a mistake when they didn't nominate Ron Paul. I am a ROn paul supporter but reality is that those who supported ron Paul are now supporting Obama. That change that ron Paul could have brought to this country is needed. it is not a fantaisy. Even zimbabwe is now trying to change. We the leading democracy in the world, are stock in racism and money.
The Republicans certainly picked their most formidable candidate in McCain, he is their only chance at holding onto the White House. This extremist is too dogmatic to see it.