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. Amy Jacobson

    Get off McCain's case. The Republican party is not owned by conservatives. Yes, you helped elect Bush but you don't own the party. We want a centrist president who can reach to the Democrats and McCain seems very promising.

    April 2, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  2. Bob Stephens

    McCain has two chances of winning in November. Slim and None!!!

    April 2, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  3. Jimmy269

    As a Christian and a fan of Mr. Dobson's Biblical teaching, I have to say that I really wish he would stay OUT of pilitics. It's really not his job to tell us who to vote for or to pressure John McCain do change who he is. McCain has qualities/views that are attractive to conservatives and some that are not. Same could be said about liberals. But he is a strong candidate for president and he doesn't have to fit one mold.

    April 2, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  4. Katie

    And this is why our wise founding fathers provided for separation of Church and State. An Evangelical leader who has involved himself in politics as much as Dr. Dobson has should lose his tax-exempt status. He uses his bully pulpit to spew hate, and his focus lies much more in influencing policy than in saving souls.

    April 2, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  5. young and In Charge.

    Dobson needs to support Nader and Hillary... REAL WINNERS.

    April 2, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  6. John in Charlotte

    Do people really care what this spiteful old coot has to say?

    April 2, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  7. Jessica

    This is good news! If Dobson and his ilk stay home, we can return to a more centrist America.

    April 2, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  8. Ben

    The best thing McCain could do is add Huckabee to the ticket.

    April 2, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  9. John, WA

    America absolutely cannot afford another Republican in the White House, but that Dobson dislikes him makes me feel better about McCain.

    April 2, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  10. Not Surprised

    ......again not surprised. These polls showing McCain tied with the Dem's are pointless as the two Dem's are still battling, this race is still the Dem's to lose however that being said if Hillary is the nominee she will be just like McCain unable to bring the party together fully and that may or may not help McCain depending on rather or not supporters stay home or vote for McCain to spite the other's candidate, just a thought.

    April 2, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  11. Brian

    So, denial of global warming and support of torture are the the rallying points for conservatives. What is wrong with these people?

    April 2, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  12. E in KY

    I'm glad McCain is getting these people out of my party. They have been the ruination of the party over the last 8 years. They continually threaten to pull away their voting bloc if their agenda is not pushed through. They do not want to participate, they want to control. And what is worse is how they use a person's religion against them to get that person to vote the way they want them to.

    April 2, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  13. Jim NC

    John may not be uniting the rep party-but he will be uniting a lot of the dem party to vote for him if Obama wins out over Clinton.
    I know I will vote for McCain and I've been a hard core dem all my life.

    April 2, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  14. someone smiling in Texas

    Hillary and Obama are fighting it out for the dem. presidential nominee and people say they are dividing the democratic party and McCain is already the republican presidential nominee and he still can't get things straight............does anyone really think he the right choice for President....I certainly don't think so. What I do know is that is I loose my home it's because of the bank for lending me the money and my fault for not being a rich republican and not being able to pay my mortgage.....Thanks Mr. McCain


    April 2, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  15. MontanaMan

    I respect Mr. Dobson's commentc. However he should be trying to meet with McCain rather than smack him down. Die hard Republicans will vote for McCain no matter what, who else will they vote for? Nader?!? So he will work to get independents and democrats. McCain is trying to unite the country not just the Republican party. McCain is the only canidate that can. Obama says he can, but how can a man unite the country when he was voted the most Liberal senator in 2007?

    I am very Conservative and I will vote for John McCain!

    April 2, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  16. dale

    John McCain doesn't care about getting conservative support because he isn't a conservative. Conservatives should just sit this election out and let the Republican party see just how far it can get without us.

    April 2, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  17. Brooke

    It's hard to know whether Dobson is doing this to hurt or help McCain. By not having the support of Dobson and people like him McCain can say that he is not your traditional Republican and will be able to attract moderates and independents.

    April 2, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  18. Tim T.

    "Fracture" as in Bush has fractured America with his divisive politics and
    lied-about war?

    April 2, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  19. RAJ

    Unfortunately, Dr. Dobson believes you can use laws to change people's hearts and that cannot and has never happened.

    April 2, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  20. Brian Mckenna

    There is a difference between conservatives and Fundamentalist Christians that Mr. Dobson represents. The Republican party has moved away from traditional conservative values such as lowering taxes, reducing the size of government and limited international involvement and more towards cow-towing to the religious right. It is important to note that Mr. Dobson's beliefs are not the same as being a conservative. But I guess Mr. Dobson knows a lot about dividing people.

    April 2, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  21. Tex

    Why does McCain even need Dobson's support? I would be more worried if McCain sought out or wanted Dobson's support.

    April 2, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  22. Richard, Ewing, NJ

    McCain is not unifying the Republicans. Hmm, and that comes Dobson?

    April 2, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  23. Bill, Streamwood, IL

    I hope that Senator McCain shows that he, nor the Republican party, needs those divisive, hypocritical conservative extremists like Dobson and his ilk.

    April 2, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  24. Uncle Sam

    With all due respect to Dr. Dobson, John McCain will not be a Christian conservative president. He will be an American president.

    April 2, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  25. hsmith

    McCain is a smart man; he knows he must unite social conservatives and yet not alienate independents. He will make an informed decision. Personally, I hope he chooses Mike Huckabee; maybe Dr. Dobson is waiting to see who the VP is before he commits.

    April 2, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
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