April 2nd, 2008
11:57 AM ET
15 years ago

Dobson: McCain 'fracturing' party

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/02/art.dobsonmc.gi.jpg caption="Dobson had some tough words for McCain Wednesday."](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

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (239 Responses)
  1. Tyler in Raleigh, NC

    "He cited recent McCain remarks on global warming and torture"

    Nice to know the conservative agenda is pro-destroying the world and pro-torturing people. I can get the global warming issue, its not that they want to mess up the planet but that they have "faith" in God but no "faith" in science. Fine, we disagree but I see where they are coming from.

    But how do you as conservative Christians say torture is okay? Isn't that against the fundamentals of peace and love that Christianity is supposed to represent?

    April 2, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  2. too funny

    So all 3 candidates have a handicap:

    Obama, with all the help (some muscling, some spin, some disenfranchising of democratic voters) from the Media and his party...just can't appeal to a majority of voters.

    McCain... is in that same boat.

    Hillary, with all the media attacks, the Hillary haterspiling on and the sabotage by her own democratic party in a fixed and rigged election is holding her own.

    Easy choice. Hillary is by far the stronger candidate.

    April 2, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  3. Hanging Chad


    Compared to the Democrats, McCain is a Uniter!


    April 2, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  4. John

    If McCain does not get a good turnout from the evangelical base, he has NO chance of winning in November (not that he has much of a chance anyway).

    April 2, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  5. DLF

    Is this about the "Party" or is it about being electable?

    McCain is running for president of the United States not the president of the Republican party.

    This is a problem for the Democrats as well. They are more interested in their party than in a candidate that can win the presidency. This is why the Democrats blindly favor Obama over Clinton!

    I am probably wasting my time typing this comment! I am sure CNN will enjoy reading this but I doubt if they will post it so others can.

    April 2, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  6. Go McCain

    Well, if Dobson's Bible-thumping followers decide to not vote for MCain, I hope they will be happy with any liberal judges appointed by Obama. I have always voted Republicans but even I am getting disgusted with my party's penchant to be the "moral police" Let's focus on economic and global issues instead of "focusing on the family"

    April 2, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  7. Really?

    Let's see. McCain (a) has called for the extension of all tax cuts that he previously was against; (b) now embraces the very people he previously called "agents of intolerance"; and (c) completely caved on immigration, focusing instead on "securing the border first" (as if that will ever happen). Combined with never-ending support for the Iraq war; support for the banking industry at the expense of Main Street; and a call for more judges like Thomas and Scalia, it sounds like McCain is the perfect conservative, albeit one that has taken the so-called "Straight Talk Express" off the tracks. For those Democrats considering voting for McCain in the event their desired candidate fails to get the nomination, think again. Policies really matter.

    April 2, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  8. Anthony

    Yes those are the conservative attitudes I grown to love. If you don't follow policy you are a demon spawn. Lets ignore the disaster the past 8 years policies has brought us.(Domestic=recession, Foreign=a unnecessary war, that if we pull out, we leave the world a much more dangerous place than we found it.)

    April 2, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  9. too funny

    IF some Republicans start to vote for Hillary... the Obama people will cry foul. They will say the votes aren't sincere.

    But when republicans were voting for Obama, then they claimed he had "crossover" appeal. But the truth is, with crossever votes in the primary... insincerity is always the question.

    Close the primaries to members of that party only. That way, no manipulation is possible.

    The Independents and Crossovers can wait until the general election to weigh in.

    April 2, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  10. Esther from Cuyahoga Falls Ohio

    In my family my older brother loves McCain its his right and me I stand with Obama its our freedoms which allow this to be. Thank God I live in this land. My Mom said if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all. keeps everyone happy

    April 2, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  11. arun chawla

    If the conservative base gets irritated by talk on Global warming and torture then it deserves to be irritated more often.

    April 2, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  12. Tom, Iowa

    James Dobson is a talking head with no real power. He wrote a book and has a couple million drones that follow him with ignorance. Who cares what he thinks? He is a hate-monger and he feeds on people's insecurities. I have never heard anyone wedge more room between their actions and their doctrine. WWJD? Not James Dobson's work.

    April 2, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  13. mp

    Not a whole lot you can do to keep these evangelicals happy...Ready to sell them your soul McCain? Cause that's what it's going to take with this bunch. Good luck.

    April 2, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  14. Fred

    Sounds like Dobson should come out for Ron Paul. Contrary to what you MSM types would like to think, he is still in the race and holding rallies all over Pennsylvania this month.

    It isn't too late for real conservatives who don't believe anything McCain says to stll support Ron Paul or candidates who are running on reducing the size of government platforms.

    If you want to see the only presidential candidate who has any clue on the root causes of the problems with our economy and real solutions to fix the mess we are in, watch the replay of Glen Beck's interview with Dr. Paul last night!

    April 2, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  15. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    What a dummy!!

    Doesn't he realize the party is already fractured-where do you think the lack of traditional support for the other primary candidates came from?

    The Gingrich crowd–is not supported by a majority anymore. Being against abortion–but for the death penalty–by the rel. right–has lost it's christian flavor for many.

    When contrasting McCain–against any of the primary GOP rivals–and especially the two Dem socialists raking each other's throats.

    Dobbs should get on board or accept the fact that it's people like him who are unwilling to change that are really fracturing the party.

    April 2, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  16. Josh

    What a "Christian" thing to say. Obviously, opposing torture and saving our planet are not "Christian" values, at least in Dobson's mind. I hope Evangelicals realize that these so called "leaders" are often willing to put neo-conservative values ahead of religious ones. Dobson should go back to giving tips for raising children and reducing family spending, and leave the politics to politicians.

    April 2, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  17. Lisa P

    So, remind me again when torture (apart from that whole crucifixion thing) and the reckless squandering of God's Creation became Christian values?

    April 2, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  18. truthurts

    well McCain knows that conservative Repubs are the minority in the GOP now...Dobson should blame, Guliani, ...err Thompson, ...oops Romney, ...uhh Huckabee...ahhh forget it! See what I mean.

    April 2, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  19. Jon Cruz

    Protecting the Earth and preventing torture are at odds with the agenda of the Christian Right? Scary stuff.

    April 2, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  20. Cheryl Dahl

    My question is what is President Bush doing the last part of his term? We have gas at a price that we can hardly afford to drive to work. We have grocery prices so high that we can hardly feed our familes. And families are losing their homes due to illigal financial situations w/ lenders. I feel as an American that we are being put on the back burner over Iraq. Can President Bush not freeze gas and the price of groceries? I feel he has really not helped us out in the past 18 months. I have been a republican for all my life and this administration has turned me completely democrat. I am very disappointed in the republician party and I am not being picky. I want to see Obama or Clinton in as president, because right now I feel the republicians are not capable of running our county.

    April 2, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  21. Paul

    This may be a good thing for McCain. It attracks moderate voters if he doesn't side with the hard line Republicans.

    April 2, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  22. biged55

    I thought april fools day was yesterday.
    Is this a joke?
    It doesn't matter what these nazis believe anyway because McCain has no chance against Obama in November.

    April 2, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  23. NickSan Diego

    I don't think McSame CARES if he fractures his party at all. He knows he has no chance at all unless he goes for the independants because the republican party is O-U-T! The World has seen what the republicans have to offer the world and has lived and suffered through it for the past 8 years. If he went too far over to the "darkside; all you would hear in november would be a GIANT sucking sound as he went down the drain,

    April 2, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  24. Left is Right

    I suppose McCain said something horrifying like we should end torture or that he is a believer in global warming. Of course these "radical" "leftist" views wouldn't appeal to this Jim Jones wannabe and his juice-guzzling zombie followers... reality isn't something they are interested in. I'm not voting for McCain, but I feel his pain having this 50-ton cross to bear.

    April 2, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  25. Bill, Richmond, VA

    How can someone who leades a group called "Focus on the Family" find fault in McCain talking about torture and global warming? Are not morality and ethics "family values?"

    April 2, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
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