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. Gerald F.

    Oh now its the Republicans turn. Though the criticism is a bit harsh. If Dr. Dobson claims what he claims. Then explain to me why then is Senator McCain so far out in front as far as votes and polls go?

    April 2, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. Howard Hewlett Des Moines IA

    With both parties feeling as if elements of their core are not being catered too is does seem as if there are two fractured parties. If only there a way to vote for someone besides one of the 2 finalist.

    Oh wait, there is. Vote for a third party candidate. This election seems to me to be the beginning of the end of a two party system. We certainly need more diveristy. This "us vs. them" is not helping America.

    April 2, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  3. Tim

    It's pretty sad when a so-called "Christian" takes issue with a man, who underwent horrible torture at the hands of the enemy, who objects to our government engaging in such barbaric and offensive practices. Dobson is an extremist

    April 2, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  4. CPS

    McCain had better be quick study in econimics because this election will be all about the economy. The sure way to unite the entire country , not just the republican party, is to provide a clear direction and understanding on this topic. This country has a huge question to answer and no one is talking about it. How after 5 years of huge government war time spending can our economy be in recession. Our economy should be red hot. It has been a while since I has economics, but I do remember the part about government stimulus. Structurally, we obviously have a problem within our economy. The fact is that we have lost our manufacturing base to minimum wage and bad trade deals. An economy that does not create is doomed. All of our hope is in a leader that can show us the way to bring that part of our economy back. Still waiting for that leader.

    April 2, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  5. Bill Austin, TX

    Maybe the lack of "unity" in these parties is actually a good thing. Neither party has done a bit of good for the country since the end of the Reagan years.

    April 2, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  6. ben

    To Sheila
    I could not agree with you more. In the first place any one who is a "hard core" Democrat or Republican is not someone with any criterion whatsoever! People like that would have voted for Lyndon Johnson, a democrat or Bush a republican.

    April 2, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  7. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Is Dr. Dobson saying that global warming isn't really happening or there is nothing that we should be doing about it? I have to ask about torture; is that really a Christian thing to do? No being a Christian, is that allowed in Christian doctorine? I would hope that it wouldn't be.

    On fracturing the party, what was brought together by Reagan was destroyed and torn apart by George W. Bush. There is little way to really argue with that since he built up the size of the federal government, started a conflict that has weakened the military in some ways, and destroyed the image and respect that America has around the world.

    April 2, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  8. AJ, IL

    Dobson may be hitting the right chord in the evangelical conservative Republican base.

    The contest between the Democrats presently is one of personality, who do you like and trust more, Obama or Hillary.

    The contest between the Republicans ended with the question who is the most conservative. McCain didn't win that bout based on the comments of leaders and political commentators, like James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingram, Joe Scarborough, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and the list goes on.

    April 2, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  9. Milton, Harrisburg, PA

    James Dobson, maybe you haven't noticed that you are now irrelevant. McCain knows a political albatross around his neck when he sees it. We saw what happens when those with your "family values" get elected. It ruins the country. McCain is smart enough to know that if he even starts to sound like Bush, he will get blown out of the water in November.

    Now if only we could get an atheist for president. Regrettably, there are too many bigoted Americans for that to ever occur.

    April 2, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  10. Obama supporter in Indiana

    Why is being voted the most Liberal senator in 2007 a negative thing and what does it have anything to do with the fact that Obama represents a new message, a new stirring of possibilities for those of us who have been hijacked by the current administration who does not represent most Americans and has little regard for the Consititution and laws (they don't seem to apply to them)?

    No presidents' administration gets everyting they say they want to do deliver done, that's why we have checks and balances in our system.

    Obama is good for our country, don't worry.

    April 2, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  11. Jason, Omaha NE

    James Dobson is irrelevent to America.

    April 2, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  12. Phil

    Mr Latinos for Hillary,
    Yes, you get to lose your home when you borrow more than you can afford and the bank loses too when they have to foreclose on you. Republicans are for accountability and self-reliance. Democrats are for protecting people from themselves and blaming the other guy when they screw up. We can certainly tell which camp you fall into.

    April 2, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. Thomas

    The person most responsible for fracturing the GOP is Dobson.

    He hijacked the GOP and turned it into the American Taliban.

    April 2, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. Joe Berson

    The democrats seem to have had the party of our dysfunctional UNIFIER on the run but believe it or not they now seem to be trying diligently to turn victory into defeat.

    April 2, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  15. bad idea

    I mean having tax hike will cost you bring less money home.

    April 2, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  16. Zalo in Michigan

    So Dobson, a supposedly Christian leader is unhappy with McCain because he speaks against torture and for protecting God's creation? And people still consider him a Christian and a leader? That says it all about our sorry state, folks!

    April 2, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  17. e styslinger

    So, God is in favor of global warming and torture ; therefore we should not support John McCain according to most high James Dobson.

    April 2, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  18. William Martin

    Well that is good. I don't think that McCain would be too bad of a choice if Sen. Clinton is not the nominee for the Democratic party. I think that it is great that the Republican party is moving away from the Conservative right and more toward the Moderate. I like that.

    April 2, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  19. Gary

    To Sheila: Jim seems to be a democrat who can actually see beyond the tip of his nose. Who do you think makes the laws in this country? Not the president! Congress makes the laws in America. Who do you think controls Congress? Not the Republicans! The democrats have controlled Congress since the last congressional election. Let's put the credit for the economy where it rightly belongs!

    April 2, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  20. Winton

    Dobson's views on global warming and torture differ. So, that means the conservatives in the Republican party are in favor of polluting our environment and torture. There is an out for conservatives reluctant to vote for McCain in the general election. Write in Romney or Huckabee, salve your conservative conscience.

    April 2, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  21. Jaime

    Don't you find it strange, that a ultra-conservative Christian leader like James Dobson is critical of McCain because McCain does NOT support torture?

    Do christians not see the hypocrisy of that stance?

    April 2, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  22. give me a break

    To dale, your comment about sitting out the election and seeing where the Republican party goes cuts both ways. A conservative candidate without the moderates has exactly the same issue, that being not winning a general election. Given the reality of the candidates, you can choose between McCain or someone further left for the next 8 years. It's up to you, but when you sit out, you forfeit your voice on how unfair everything is.

    April 2, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  23. Stacy Clarks,


    that is so childish of you to say you will vote for McCain if Obama wins...how different are his policies to the democrats...get real

    this might be jsut a game to you, and a source of vengence, but to other Americans, this is life. So make yourself useful and just stay at home.....

    OBAMA 08!!!!!!!

    April 2, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  24. dd

    Mr. Dobson, I'm confused – are the use of torture and the destruction of our shared earth home family values?

    April 2, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  25. Louis

    Let me get this straight–according to Mr. Dobson, a candidate can unify the Republican party by denying global warming and supporting torture. Sounds great if you are a Neanderthal.

    April 2, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
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