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. Frank in Va

    ...I have been a democrat all my life but will vote for McCain if Hillary wins over Obama. We don't need 16 years of Bill Clinton.

    April 2, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  2. Moniker

    Dobson should stick to his field, & allow the politicians to stick to theirs. You don't hear the candidates trumpeting theological discussions.

    April 2, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  3. Anyone but Obamination

    I will write in Hillary, I hope she runs as an Indepentent, this may be the year for a third party.

    April 2, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  4. Anish Raj

    I am a Democrat, but I will be voting for McCain in the fall. He has the experience, integrity, and character to make a fine President.

    April 2, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  5. Greg

    THIRD PARTY! Edwards will draw from both sides. Team him up with Alan Keyes. I like Keyes more than Obama or McCain. Keyes placates some Republicans and maybe a few Blacks. Edwards always had the right message about the economy. Compromise!

    April 2, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  6. mp

    Why is my comment still in moderation?

    April 2, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. Uncle Sam

    With all due respect to Dr. Dobson, John McCain is not running to be the Christian conservative president. He is truly the American president Americans have been waiting for!

    Americans for McCain '08

    April 2, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  8. ShannonL

    Dobson is so short sighted. With 2+ Supreme Court appointments coming up in the next term, he would be stupid to fight against McCain. Would he rather have the most liberal person in the Senate appointing judges with the backing of a Democratic controlled Congress? If Republicans want a conservative Supreme Court, they better get behind McCain and vote for him in November.

    These a life long appointments people! One-Third of our government...appointed for life!

    April 2, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  9. MDH

    I belive I will vote for Obama this term and give "compasionate Liberalism" a try. What comes around goes around....

    April 2, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  10. IamWMD

    McCain is a fine veteran and we're gonna enjoy swiftboating him come November. Payback is a mutha

    Obama 08

    April 2, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  11. Scott Cadwell, Tempe, AZ

    Why is this man still considered relevant?

    April 2, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  12. Mike33

    And people complain that the Democrats haven't gotten their stuff together? At least there's discourse between Hillary and Obama - and some excitement among the electorate. The religious right just is too full of itself and its moral litmus tests to get behind anyone short of Reagan-reincarnated this cycle.

    April 2, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  13. Jason

    Why is it that conservatives can throw stones and create discord and animosity, and then claim that it is the candidate who is "fracturing" the party?

    Millions of Republicans voted for McCain in preference to Huckabee or Romney, so it stands to reason that even within the Republican party, religious conservatives are but a minority. An important minority, certainly, but still the lesser fraction of the lesser fraction that is the Republican party.

    McCain's job, if elected, is to represent the entire nation, including, but not limited to, conservatives. I applaud him for not taking a narrow political view and for not adjusting his political position according to the political needs of the moment.

    April 2, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  14. Geoff Smith

    The social conservatives are going to have a tough time accepting any candidate that has an actual chance to win. They believe that getting George W. Bush into the White House was one of their greatest accomplishments while the vast majority of the country realizes that W. is the worst president we've had in modern history.

    April 2, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  15. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    So few comments on a McCain story in comparison to anything about the Dems. That tells me the same thing that the turnout in the primaries is telling me: Dems are fired up and ready to go, while the Repubs are sitting around going :woe is us".

    April 2, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  16. Leila

    McCain will get a lot of Democratic votes if Obama gets the nomination. I will vote for Hillary or McCain, but I will not vote for Obama.
    I am still amazed at how the media is stepping on everyone else to get BO elected and how easily the people are caught up in this media game. The media slant for Obama is unlike anything in my voting life.
    Hopefully, when the general election rolls around, voters will evaluate the candidates more closely and vote based on thinking, analyzing and evaluating. BO's followers are all about emotion and rhetoric.

    April 2, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. Paul from Kissimmee

    This is a failed attempt bt the media to make people think the Republican party is in the same shape as the Dems. When they start calling him racist, not experienced enough, polarizing, you know, what the Dems are saying about each other, maybe I'll believe it.

    Go McCain!!!

    April 2, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  18. Chris in VA

    Everytime I see someone like Dobson criticize Sen. McCain, it makes me want to vote for him that much more. Dobson and his ilk are exactly what has gone wrong with my party over the last 8 years. Let Dobson and the others go reconstitute the Know-Nothing Party of the 1800s. It's where they belong anyway.

    April 2, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  19. Chitown in Chicago, IL

    Oh, Dobson, go away! I'm not even a Repub and your comments annoy me. You neither speak for all conservatives nor all Christians. Please, there are much more urgent matters for the Church, like ending poverty, injustice and oppression worldwide. Yes, making these changes sometimes involves influencing and working with people in government; but choose wisely what you'll ring governmental leaders' bells for. Whether McSame is doing his best to reach out to conservatives isn't a battle worthy of picking. Save your breath for something that matters.

    April 2, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  20. Michael

    Go away Dobson! You speak for no one!

    McCAIN '08

    April 2, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  21. Jill

    How can we trust Hillary at all?? She cannot tell the truth from the lies she tells. If she was under sniper fire, then I am under sniper fire every day. I do express some concern over the race this year because some of the Democrats are so divided. I know that if Hillary wins the nomination, a lot of people will vote for Mc Cain. However, I do not see how she is going to win especially because she is the most unfavorable candidate amongst Democrats. I will not talk about Penn, because, to be honest, you really don't know about these things. All I can do is hope Obama wins and see what happens.

    April 2, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  22. Steve

    I like the approach McCain is taking, as long as he doesn't alienate the conservative base, which he hasn't at this point. He will get some Dems to vote for him come November, especially with the battle they got going on. I think picking a conservative like Romney would help McCain unite the conservative base, and his advisors know that too. Let's face it no true conservative would ever vote for either of the Dems, so I think his game plan is well thought out.

    April 2, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  23. SC

    I consider myself a conservative Christian, and though McCain wasn't my first choice among the Republicans running, I still plan on placing my vote with him. Dobson's sentiment makes sense from his point of view, but it seems to me Dobson should quietly put his weight behind McCain rather than disparaging him. Would he rather see Obama or Clinton as the next president? Didn't think so. The only reason I can see Dobson bothering to make these comments is in the hopes that McCain chooses someone like Huckabee as a running mate.

    April 2, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  24. jd

    Forget McCain! Obama/08

    April 2, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  25. Jim, Burlington

    McCain will end up being "Bush-lite."

    The great conservative experiment started and ended Reagan, and it has failed.

    You fools who voted for Bush the first time shame on you, those who voted for him the second time "are you blind?" and if you vote for McCain my god it would be criminal to continue these policies.

    April 2, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10