Cultural and economic conservatives team up hoping for 2012 success
June 4th, 2011
05:06 PM ET
3 years ago

Cultural and economic conservatives team up hoping for 2012 success

Washington (CNN) – It'll surely get ugly, so they say they'll need backup.

Contemplating what could be a bruising fight against Democrats and President Barack Obama for 2012 electoral victory, the two-day Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington this weekend is bringing together cultural and economic conservatives in one of the largest and most public efforts to merge the disparate conservative factions.

Ralph Reed, the longtime conservative power broker and the force behind the event, told CNN, "I say to the Tea Party members and activists that are pro-family and are pro-life and do want to work on those issues: Come and be a part of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. Retain your Tea Party membership, but if you're interested in working on those other issues, we've hung out a welcome sign and believe me, we've got a lot of them here this weekend."

Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots - the nation's largest Tea Party group - expressed a similar sentiment during a Friday night address to attendees.

"This is a critical election in our country's history," Meckler said. He later added, "And there's one thing that we all know for sure, it's going to take all of us, from that entire conservative spectrum, to win the elections of 2012."

Should the two factions meld, it would represent a reversal of thought for the Tea Party. Many activists have long stood steadfast against mixing arguments about debt and taxes with emotionally charged arguments on immigration or family values.

The risk, as the thought goes, is that it would create muddled messages, turn off potential sympathizers and possibly drive away members.

The effort would merge activists who rail against abortion, gay marriage and other cultural issues with those who rail against the national debt, government spending and high taxes.

Reed addressed that line of thought.

"I want to make it abundantly clear: The Tea Party movement and the social conservative movement are separate and distinct. The Tea Party movement works exclusively on spending and fiscal and the size and scope of government issues," Reed said. "We work on those as well as defense and foreign policy issues as well as cultural and values issues. … I don't have any problem at all with the Tea Party working on a narrower band of issues."

Meckler bluntly acknowledged that often both sides might not get along.

"Sometimes, as movements, we might even be a little frustrated with each other. Sometimes we might feel if we're on the social conservative side of things that the Tea Party should be more involved with socially conservative issues and directly address those issues. And sometimes I can tell you, there are people in the Tea Party movement who say, 'The fiscal troubles of our nation are moral issues. How come folks, for example, in the churches aren't talking about our fiscal situation?' "

And yet Meckler was emphatic that any differences between the groups should be set aside to benefit conservatives as a whole. Especially given that, in Reed's estimation, the number of social and economic conservatives could add up to be over 40 percent of the electorate.

"We're headed toward the same goal line," Meckler told conference attendees.

– On Monday, June 13, CNN will host the first New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate, live from Manchester, NH at 8 p.m. ET. Follow all the issues and campaign news leading up to the debate on CNNPolitics.com and @cnnpolitics on Twitter.

soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Johnson

    Obama gets elected and the very next day we have all these groups, if nothing else designed to take back power for the republicans. These people never ever thought of organizing under Bush when he was wanting blank check after blank check and he also INCREASED the size of Government.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    June 4, 2011 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  2. diridi

    two years is long time to predict....Economy and job market may get better, Oil is dropping down, it is a good sign, but ignoring OIl-independence, and energy efficiency is a total stupidity....I bet Obama will pull through.....Non of the GOP thugs deserve any better. We all know, they ruined this nation. Sent jobs to India, and China. Ryan's budget is an ax to Health care. It does serve to rich and corporation's greed. Good luck, Obama...2012.

    June 4, 2011 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain

    "We're headed toward the same goal line," Meckler told conference attendees.

    And that goal line is to turn our country into a plutocratic theocracy, where 2% of the population own and control everything; virtually no Middle Class; no social safety net, public education or regard to critical technological, economic and physical infrastructure; and religious police to keep the masses in line.

    You know, kinda like a "Christian" version of Saudi Arabia.

    June 4, 2011 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  4. John

    What the Tea Party want to do Is Control the Government , and has say to what get done and what does not. The Tea party Is Really just the Republican Party. But the Tea Party people are a lot Richer. I didn't see the Tea party come around When the Republican and President Bush Spend what Money America had and than when they started borrow Trillions of dollar to fight the two wars we been in for over Ten years. America has spend trillions of dollars In Iraq . On the war and to rebuilt Iraq. And we are spending trillions of dollars In Afghanistan. The Reason the Republican are not wanting to put are troop out and the Tea party are not saying anything about It. It because of the Company the Republican got In there making all that money. If the American People Really want to know why America Is In dept , than have the Republican tell you the truth If you can. It sure Is Funny that be for President Bush took Office American was In the Black and didn't own no Country any money. Eight year Of President BUSH and you have the Government borrowing money from Social Security fund and they didn't want to take any more from that , than they Started borrowing from other Country. They borrow this money to pay for they two war we been In for Ten years. One of these wars the Republican even LIE to get the American People behind It. And that how American Dept is has much as It is Now 14.5 Trillions Dollars.

    June 4, 2011 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  5. Kara

    Conservatives, teaming up to use their 'faith' as a means to take away other people's freedom.

    June 4, 2011 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  6. Squigman

    Here come the people with agendas to spread. Maybe the workers should unite, and further their own agenda. Oh wait, that would be considered socialist, and against everything the corporations stand for.

    June 4, 2011 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  7. marty

    So now we have Ralph Reed, the great pretender, the friend and associate of Jack Abramoff, speaking unabashedly of morals and values at his Faith and Freedom conference. These are activists who rail against abortion –they call it killing –but do not hesitate to send young men and women to their death under the banner of war calling it the 'ultimate sacrifice'. These pro-family, pro-life activists condemn gay marriages but condone divorce and annullments, which destroy and devastate families and make a mockery out of, "what God has put together let no man put asunder".

    It is not faith, freedom , cultural and moral issues that they seek, it is power, money and control. Both factions should merge as one under one umbrella with the title of ,'The Great Pretenders".

    June 4, 2011 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  8. Kenny K

    There are a lot of private businesses (the contractors, consultants, etc) that get their revenue from doing businesses with government. If the government stops spending, those small businesses will not survive.

    Republicans talk about spending in percentages or ratio instead of actual amount. For instance, if revenue amount drop annually over the last five years and spending stay the same, the percentage of spending to revenue will go up.

    Question: Is Big Government measured in terms of money spent, number of people employed, or number activities carried out?

    In my opinion, Medicare problem can be solved by government paying less to doctors and medical personnel who deal with government than what they will be paid outside the government, just like military personnel. Military personnel made far less than what they will make as private security contractor.

    June 4, 2011 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  9. Steve851

    We desperately need someone to articulate how we can get government out of social issues, left or right. That is the meaning of freedom. "Faith and Freedom" is nonsensical without someone like that.

    June 4, 2011 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  10. Marla

    Really? I thought that they were already one and the same group. Every tea-bagger that I've ever seen has been racist, anti-gay marriage and anti-women's rights.
    This is either just the same group, or it's a perfect match.

    June 4, 2011 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  11. Ken

    Great example for the world of the separation of Church and State!!!

    June 4, 2011 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  12. Name king

    Instead of having enovators for Keeping up with the current global Economic trend, we have back in the days ideology and beliefs to run global economy when will we get out of this old ways of running a new trend. This economy does not stand still, it is forever moving, so the old remedies worked in past years, when our economy wasn't so global, won't necessary work in this complicated global economy world. Obama has created 2 million jobs from the 8 million we lost when the markets crashed 2 years ago. He has to be watching the economy's trend then adoptic to what turns the economy makes, this is not set ideology system he's using. If the repugs will quit defending insurance companies and big oil for one minuite, and follow trump lead on chastising these folks when they are raping the American people, this economy would be way further than where we are right now.

    June 4, 2011 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  13. Greg Kells

    This will be the undoing of the Tea Party, like it has been the undoing of the GOP. Evangelicals have NO PLACE in politics. As a conservative I'm ashamed and insulted when groups like the Christian Coalition claim to represent my ideology. I'm equally embarrassed by the lack of cohesion and clarity in the Tea Party. Focus on what it means to be a conservative, less spending, less foreign intervention, fewer government infringements on our lives, more economic and social liberty. Keep your values and faith where they belong, in the home and the church. Remember, Jesus was a dirty liberal who opposed free market economics. If that's your role model, don't call yourself a conservative.

    June 4, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  14. Greg Kells

    This will be the undoing of the Tea Party, like it has been the undoing of the GOP. Evangelicals have NO PLACE in politics. As a conservative I'm ashamed and insulted when groups like the Christian Coalition claim to represent my ideology. I'm equally embarrassed by the lack of cohesion and clarity in the Tea Party. Focus on what it means to be a conservative, less spending, less foreign intervention, fewer government infringements on our lives, more economic and social liberty. Keep your values and faith where they belong, in the home and the church. Remember, Jesus was a liberal who opposed free market economics. If that's your role model, don't call yourself a conservative.

    June 4, 2011 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  15. LacrosseMom(real one)

    These groups should concern every American who values their Freedoms. They sound fascist. Very scary.

    June 4, 2011 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  16. dwyne

    YAWWWWWNNNN. Wake me up when they have a constructive solution that will help solve the country's problem.
    If they only have angry rhetorics and character asassination and bigotry to win the White house been there done that
    it might have worked for them in the midterm but the majority needs more than what this fringe group can offer

    June 4, 2011 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  17. Texas Doc

    Because we all need more people telling us how to live. Ain't that what y'all are against? I'm confused.

    June 4, 2011 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  18. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Tea party people are clearly more fiscal and libertarian leaning. If they join the religious and social conservatives, then they will be just remaking the GOP. It will just be more hard line. They will have less sympathy for those that can't do for themselves at all.

    June 4, 2011 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  19. Rob in MO

    Ideologically, these 2 groups are incompatible. One wants the government to dictate and control human behavior; the other wants the government to leave rich folks alone to exploit the rest of us. One wants authoritarian government; the other wants laissez faire. Both are extremely dangerous.

    June 4, 2011 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  20. rhumba

    Social Conservative= taking away freedom and forcing religion down people's throats. This sounds a lot like radical Islam to me.

    June 4, 2011 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  21. Dee

    People are in for a suprise because the President is always thinking ahead how to solve issues as the economy and keeping us from going into a depression. He is working as hard as he can but is rejected by the Republicans. They do not want him to win the election and when they were elected they promised jobs, jobs but all they are talking about is cutting spending, and the deficit while hurting the poor and middle class and enriching the rich.

    The President and Pres. Clinton has a big suprise collaboration the end of June in Chicago to address the economy. Clinton is bringing his Global Initiative to the U.S. ( a first) to help the President and businesses in creating jobs. Everyone has been so focused on the negatives and have not paid this news any attention. Pres. Obama can multi-task and is always thinking about this Country and its people.
    We should support him and his foreign policies the next suprise is bringing down Gaddahfi and he also has toppled another big time terrorist next in line to Osama this weekend.

    So, please give this President credit he said change does not come easy and over-night but it will come. GOOD JOB
    President Obama things are going to get better we have to keep the faith and stop listening to the naysayers.

    June 4, 2011 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  22. Limbaugh is a liberal

    I am puzzled why it is so hard for conservatives to unite. They really care about one issue anyway: cut taxes for the rich and screw everyone else!

    June 4, 2011 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  23. Peter E

    Yeah, the Tea Party will stick it to the republicans and hold them responsible... unless it's an election year, in which case they will, once again, vote republican no questions asked.
    Come on, stop hypocritically pretending you care about holding to so-called 'principles.' The only principle any of these conservatives ever cared about is grabbing more power, no matter the cost. They are so obsessed by this they don't realize how much they have flip-flopped from the previous president's term, when they were enthusiastically cheering for policies they now condemn for Obama.
    Huge deficits? No problem!... IF it's Bush creating them. It's a mortal sin if Obama does it.
    Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? Great! But now that Obama is in power they are wars 'of choice.' (their words! Not mine)
    Bailouts for huge corporations? In 2005-2008 they were necessary and justified... But after January 20, 2009 they were a waste of taxpayer money.
    Natural disaster response? Well, those poor people had it coming anyway in New Orleans... But now under Obama they are refered to as 'suffering American citizens' whose plight has been 'ignored.'

    June 5, 2011 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  24. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    The party that refuses to appropriate funding for the Missouri tornado victims unless Medicare, Social Security, and Planned Parenthood are destroyed! Vote for the Taliban America....and reap what you sow...

    June 5, 2011 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  25. frank from Indiana

    Ah the fruits and nuts coalition. Add in a few flakes, and before you can say, snap, crackle pop.....

    June 5, 2011 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
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