Super Tuesday: Dobson delivers blow to McCain candidacy

February 6, 2008

DALLAS – James Dobson, the influential founder of the conservative, evangelical advocacy group Focus on the Family, has delivered a blow to John McCain — by saying he won’t vote for him if he’s the Republican presidential nominee.

rtr1wpgy.jpg“I am convinced Sen. McCain is not a conservative, and in fact, has gone out of his way to stick his thumb in the eyes of those who are … I cannot, and will not, vote for Sen. John McCain, as a matter of conscience,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

“I believe this general election will offer the worst choices for president in my lifetime. I certainly can’t vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama based on their virulently anti-family policy positions. If these are the nominees in November, I simply will not cast a ballot for president for the first time in my life,” he said.

Dobson said he was just expressing his views as a private citizen — but many of his millions of followers in the evangelical community, who listen to his radio show and read his books, will take it as a signal to do the same.

Dobson previously had said he would do the same if former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani became the Republican nominee. There was even talk among conservatives inside Dobson’s inner circle of supporting a third party candidate if Giuliani, who has since dropped out, carried the Republican crown.

Giuliani’s support for abortion and gay rights made him anathema in the eyes of conservative Christians, a key Republican base.

McCain has long opposed abortion rights. But Dobson said McCain’s failure to support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and his support for embryonic stem-cell research among other things were beyond the Christian conservative pale.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

- Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

So what makes Dr. Dobson’s right to an opinion and choice (or in this case, non-choice) of candidate any different than Oprah’s?

Posted by eb knapp | Report as abusive

I just want to say that our nation is not only a nation of conservatives or liberals but a nation composed of people from different backgrounds, cultures, etc.Personally I am a Christian who attend an evangelical church as a preference but it does not means we are to rule our nation because of this. The place we go to worship is just a human expression of our believes but it does not represent exactly the heart of God.In my personal opinion I think politics and religion need to be separated because when religion is mixed up with politics bad things happens. Jesus always crash with the religious-political individuals of his times because this people did loose the real message of the biblical gospel and I think today in 2008 we are living under the same situation. It is very sad to hear from our “Christian leaders” such comments, even do they made them under their personal perspective it is almost impossible to separate the facts they represent an organization which supported from people with different opinions. I do not think this is the way Jesus would act under this circumstances.

Posted by Miami Voter | Report as abusive

Jeannette,I am a Christian too and I am 100% with you. I have the same concerns about the way Christianity is preach from this so called “Christian leaders” of our great nation. I think it is time for people like us to stand in our churches and stop this hidden agendas. As Christians we are not only republicans, there are Christian people who are Democrats and also there are others that are simply “no party affiliate”. Our leaders need to stop doing campaign from the same pulpit the gospel is preach, if they want to do campaign then go behind the politics in the streets but church is mean for everyone as Jesus will say and as he did when he was between us.

Posted by Miami Voter | Report as abusive

Of course Dr. Dobson has as much right to speak his mind as the next person, and the rest of us have the right to pay attention or not. Generally speaking, when he (or anyone else) says so-and-so isn’t a “True Conservative”, it’s essentially meaningless without clearly defining “Conservatism”.It seems that there are any number of definitions, but the “Religious Right” has a rather peculiar one: to be truly Conservative, one must be a “Social” (or “Values”) Conservative. In other words, one must believe that it is the proper duty of government to impose on its citizens “Christian Values”, most commonly “Sanctity of Life” (i.e. that of fetuses) and “Sanctity of Marriage” (i.e. no gays or lesbians need apply) and, in general, a prohibition of anything which is deemed to be in violation of “God’s Plan”, as they see it. For them, this is a sine qua non, and, indeed for some, the only mark of a Conservative.In my opinion, the evangelical “Religious Right” is not Conservative at all, as their vision of America (And Tomorrow, the World!) is that of a Christian Theocracy, in fulfillment of Biblical Prophecy, which has nothing to do with the vision of the Founding Fathers, who, for the first time in history conceived a strictly Secular, Constitutional Republic, designed to protect the natural right of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and not to shackle them to the whim of tyrants, or the dictates of Bible zealots.

Posted by Cristi | Report as abusive

I consider myself a conservative but unlike Dr. Dobson I can compromise to accept a candidate who shares some of my views rather than allowing the election of someone who supports none.Dr. Dobson is just one example of a “purist” who would rather see someone like Senator Obama elected than compromise.He certainly has a right to his own opinion about a candidate’s qualifications but, in my opinion, his public announcement that he will not vote is clearly a call for his followers to do likewise.Sorry, Dr. Dobson but to me that announcement is totally irresponsible and smacks of demagoguery.

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

Mr. Dobson, I’ve followed your ministry for years respect your work but now, I am sorely disappointed in you.I endorsed and supported Bush twice. Now you claim that Hillary nor Obama, nor does any other Republican candidate truly support family values, so you may not vote at all this go around. Ron Paul is a more than qualified candidate who has articulated detailed sound solutions to challenges facing our nation. You claim to want real change in support of family values and want a strong economy, why do you then discount and ignore a Ron Paul who clearly has THE BEST SOLUTIONS??? Please clear up the confusion??

Posted by KD James | Report as abusive

These past 8 years of “family focused” christian neo-conservatism have been so great, haven’t they? it’s so sad there’s terms limits. now we actually have to elect a reasonable person (mccain, obama, or clinton) to begin to repair the ridiculous wreckage of bush/cheney. there are no “angels” in evangelical. you nutjob hatemongers have screwed this country and left us with a 100-year war, trillion $ deficit, and a country scorned by the rest of the world. well done.

Posted by tom | Report as abusive

I am a somewhat conservative voter and I will vote for John McCain. James Dobson’s statement about McCain is completely irresponsible and I have a decreased respect for him. Vote McCain in November!!!

Posted by D | Report as abusive

* * * AP Breaking News Alert * * *Evangelical leader James Dobson to endorse Mike Huckabee for GOP presidential nod.James Dobson, one of the nation’s most prominent evangelical Christian leaders, is about to endorse former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee,the Associated Press has learned. Dobson, founder of Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Focus on the Family, talked to the GOP presidential hopeful Thursday and later was to release a statement explaining his choice, said Gary Schneeberger, a spokesman for Dobson.Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, holds perhaps more influence over rank-and-file Christians than any other evangelical leader in the country. He has stated that he won’t support John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson, leaving just Huckabee and Mitt Romney.And now with Mitt Romney dropping out of the race, the decision becomes very clear that Mike Huckabee is the conservative choice.His backing carries enormous weight, because of the number of voters he reaches via his organization, radio show and is symbolic.This represent a major validation of Huckabee’s presidential candidacy.

Posted by Tony | Report as abusive

Most people say that the two most important issues facing America today are the economy and the war. I fear that, unless we DO elect a candidate who will head us back toward Biblical principles, we will see an ever-worsening economy and even more war. God does not bring judgements, we bring them on ourselves when we disobey His laws. You can`t blame the stop sign if you run it and get broadsided.

Posted by Linda Stell | Report as abusive

Since the Democratic party’s formation, a recurring theme has arisen when vindicating laws in place. For slavery, it was John C. Calhoun (D) who reaffirmed that slaves were not fully human, and therefore were not U.S. citizens, but the property of U.S. citizens. This was clearly seen in Dred Scott vs. Sanford, 1856. The modern Democrat’s justification for abortion is nearly identical, that the child is not human, and thus the property of the mother (solely). That laws like abortion are in place doesn’t mean they should be ignored and that “progression” onto issues such as the economy and health care are of the only pertinent interests. If one believes abortion to be wrong (and I believe abortion is reprehensible), one will keep working towards change. If activists like William Lloyd Garrison did nothing regarding the horrid institution of slavery but said with complacency “it’s just the law, regardless of whether or not it’s moral,” we would have a very different history of America: a nation that practiced slavery for far too long.

In all seriousness, I wonder if James Dobson will support Ron Paul.

Posted by Damian | Report as abusive

“James Dobson, one of the nation’s most prominent evangelical Christian leaders, is about to endorse former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee”.Why am I not surprised that he would support a divisive split in the Republican Party, the only party that comes even close to supporting his views, rather than rally behind McCain?Tell me this Dr Dobson, if the Democrats nominated Satan would you still take the position you do, split the opposition and allow Satan to be elected?I dare say I think you would.

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

From that same article endorsing Huckabee:”Dobson emphasizes that when he endorses candidates, he is doing so as a private citizen and not as a representative of Focus on the Family, a tax-exempt organization he founded. His endorsement of Huckabee was to be e-mailed to 110,000 people through Focus on the Family Action, a separate entity that is allowed to be more politically active, Schneeberger said.”Dr. Dobson is too smart an individual to not know the impact of his endorsement and the fact that it was e-mailed by his support organization belies his disclaimer.Appears duplicitous to me. For those who posted thoughtful comments but whose primary language is not English, that means “talking out of both sides of his mouth.”

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

I’m thrilled with the choices this year. For the first time in my life there will be two good choices for president. I’ll vote democrat as usual, but if libral McCain gets elected…I’ll be ok with that too. The religious right can believe however they want…but I want the same freedom.

Posted by Lori | Report as abusive

As a Christian, I cannot condone the destruction of the unborn out of convenience. I am glad that there are some who are willing to present the “inconvenient truth” that millions of the most innocent have been aborted. I appreciate Dr. Dobson’s willingness to voice these concerns.

Posted by PIRSquared | Report as abusive

I appalled at James Dobson, a Christian and leader of the religious right, who supported the vicious and un-Christian attacks on Hilary Clinton. She, too, is a human being. He and his followers who have supported the demeaning dolls made of Senator Clinton are sexist to women of all ages and all beliefs. It proves gender bias in the evangelic movement and supports the world’s misunderstanding of us. His attach on women is proof positive that there still are two kinds of people in this world: Human beings and women. I am a Christian who believes that God intended for Christians to lead this world, not fall into the immoral behavior of a Hollywood-type response to a woman running for president.

Posted by Darlene Schenck | Report as abusive

It is insane for someone like Dobson or Limbaugh to take such a stance. McCain is the only government employee that is willing to put himself ont heline to do the right thing. Sometimes, voting against One’s party on important issues is the right thing to do. Finance Reform was a MUST as the severe religious right and large corps were buying candidates by paying for their campaigns. Just like Islam is buying Obama’s campaign and Clinton is being paid for by the Dubai groups. McCain is the only candidate to take us through these very troubled times. Both Dobson and Limbaugh are pediphiles and need to targeted by the only real and true conservative of this modern era, Erik Rudolph. Sure he was a “bit off the deep-end”, but a true conservative that was also refused backing by Limbaugh and Dobson.No, I don’t support Rudolph or any murderer, but I do support McCain all the way.

Posted by JLMEAL | Report as abusive

McCain is the ONLY candidate that has been 100% pro life in his votes and his life… So if that’s the case, both pediphile Dobson and drug addict Limbaugh need to get back on track and play like the conservatives they claim to be.

Posted by JLMEAL | Report as abusive