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. Fred in VA

    Mr. James Dobson and his crew better get on the McCain train and soon. Unless of course they want to see Hillary as the conductor and Bill as the engineer...

    April 2, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  2. JCL, Kentucky

    Okay, so now the negative rhetoric is plaguing the Republican Primary process with John McCain running against Nobody.

    I wonder how the media will spin this to demonstrate that the Democratic Party with two candidates that are liked is in much more trouble than the Republican Party with no candidates that are liked.

    April 2, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  3. David

    I'm glad Dobson isn't caving in to McCain just because he is already the nominee. looks like McCain needs a Romney or Huckabee VP choice (or someone that the conservatives will be more comfortable with) to even have a chance at unity. in the end McCain was a bad choice as are both Dems fighting it out. this is a bad year for picking the POTUS.

    April 2, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  4. Alex H

    Hahaha! LOVE IT!

    "I don't agree with anything you say... YOU'RE FRACTURING THE PARTY!"

    McCain speaks about what he believes and because it doesn't fall in with what you believe, it's "fracturing". It sounds to me like YOU, Mr. Dobson, are fracturing the party by influencing others through harsh words, not policy stances.

    "Don't underestimate the Republicans' ability to blow this election"
    -Sean Hannity

    I'm hoping they do!

    April 2, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  5. AJ, IL

    The electorate voting in the Democratic primaries are enthuisied and energized. The although public tension exists between the "love" of having two good candidates, Democrats, some Independents, and some Republicans will rally behind the Democratic nominee, hopefully, Obama.

    The Republicans keep talking publicly about McCain unifying the base, but McCain's rise in the polls is due the long and ferocious fight between Obama and Clinton.

    It is funny to listen and watch conservative radio and TV hosts, such as Sean Hannity, Joe Scarborough and Laura Ingram, go on the attack of Obama to try to rally other conservatives to their cause. They all spend more time trying to talk up the negatives of Obama and less on the positives of McCain. Sean Hannity, Joe Scarborough and Laura Ingram were all livid supporters of Mitt Romney.

    I think Dobson is echoing an inner sentiment shared by alot of evangelical conservatives. Depending on how this presidential race plays out, I can see a large number of conservatives, possibly sitting out of the 2008 election if it is a McCain vs Obama matchup.

    April 2, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  6. bill from pa

    These phony religious leaders that insist on influencing politics is the reason I left the republican party. Dobson ought to stick to saving peoples souls or whatever he thinks he's doing and stay out of politics.
    Organized religion has proven time after time throughout history to be the root of all evil.

    April 2, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  7. Rational Moderate

    Oh, that is really nice to know that the far right wing religious extremists are upset with John McCain because he opposes torture and global warming. What a bunch of lunatics. I am sure Jesus would fully endorse torture and ruining the environment.

    April 2, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  8. MC- Atlanta,GA

    No – what this means Mr. Dobson, is that your type of people no longer represent an evolving Republican Party- its called Progress, get used to it.

    April 2, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  9. Rod

    Somebody ought to fracture the party. This is the same party (and Church) that has had the ear of "W" any time a major political decision is getting close. Remember when "W" was promoting Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court? Dobson didn't approve. He made one phone call to Rove and it was thrown out. That's why these guys hate McCain so badly. He's so old and senile they know they can't control what he says, so......if he became President they would totally lose their grip on the White House AND the Supreme Court.

    You go old guy. The rest of the country will be grateful in two ways. You wont win and you'll sure screw up the Religious Right!! We'll all be thankful for that!

    April 2, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  10. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    McCain won't release his medical records and Hillary won't release her tax records.

    April 2, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  11. Anonymous

    A Christian leader sees denouncing torture as a negative. Oh, the irony.

    April 2, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  12. Marc

    God forbid we address torture and global warming. Sheesh! Good for McCain.

    April 2, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  13. Matt

    As an Evangelical Christian, I often wish people like Rev. Dobson would just keep their mouths shut.

    April 2, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  14. Chris from San Antonio

    The only ones fracturing the Republican Party are the Religious Right and the chickenhawk neocons.

    Oh wait, that IS the Republican Party.

    April 2, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  15. sozzi

    Why does the Media always have to bring these religious fanatics into the election process? Please leave them out of the picture. Aren't we suppose the separate religion & state?

    April 2, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. keep your dogma off my government

    Glad to hear Sen Mccain is ignoring the christian right. Now if more people would do the same, perhaps they would get a clue that they have NO business in politics.

    April 2, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  17. Dan, Washington DC

    Please, people like Dobson don't want to see a "unified" party. They just want a candidate who agrees with them. They don't care if their choice for the nominee would create a rift in the opposite direction.

    April 2, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  18. MD

    McCain was sharply criticized for moving away from his image of a maverick and was branded the nickname McBush immediately after his visit to the White House.

    McCain has a simple decision to make: Either he tries to make everyone happy – which is a lost cause – or, he can be himself, and be honest with the American people on his views about a variety of topics of interest, and let the chips fall where they may.

    I think taking a stance that torture is wrong speaks well of his defense of American morality. As a tortured Vietnam War veteran, he would be hypocritical to support such heinus act.

    If as Americans we endorse torture against our "enemies," then what is the difference between us and those who inflict torture on their own people or on our military servicepersons?

    April 2, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  19. Kevin - IN

    I cannot believe Dobson sincerely believes the Christian faith, or even conservatism is in line with torturing people, and disrespecting the environment.

    What kind of nut-jobs have taken over the Republican party? Perhaps they should leave and form a Facist party, bent on torture and destruction.

    I have more respect for McCain for taking a stand against this aspect of the party.

    April 2, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  20. Paul

    Though he may not agree on everything with Sen. McCain, he should realize two things: McCain is a man of integrity, and he's going to be the only Republican on the ballot. Meanwhile Dobson has talked about not voting in November. Who's the one dividing the party?

    I hope Dr. Dobson understands that citizens buy their right to complain by casting their votes.

    April 2, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  21. ariel

    Rev. Dobson,this country is way past absolutes.We need consensus.Please return to your cloister; the country has moved beyond you.

    April 2, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  22. jw, canadian,ok

    No, Dobson, you goofy old fart, you and the radical religious right has all but destroyed the Republican party as we knew it. But, by the same token John McBush is not a Republican either, I don't what he is.

    April 2, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  23. FEDUP

    Trouble, trouble everywhere. This may be the year for an Independent. I hope if Hillary is not the nominee, she will consider an Independent run. That would sure shake the tree, wouldn't it?

    April 2, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  24. Margaret

    The smartest thing the Republicans can do right now to win over any on the fence voters is paint John McCain as a moderate. John McCain has the most conservative voting record in all of Congress. But if all these staunch conservatives act like they don't like him, then he may get a larger share of the moderates while still keeping all the conservatives who don't have anyone else to vote for anyway.

    April 2, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  25. ALBO

    This is an useless exercise (AND A BLUFF), as McCain knows that with his stance, he is attracting far more INDEPENDENTS AND DIGRUNTLED DEMOCRATS then the small number of Ultra-Conservatives sitting out
    the elections


    April 2, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
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