Secretive conservative meeting set for next week
DALLAS – A leading social conservative, who asked not to be named, has confirmed reports in Politico and The New York Times that major players in the movement plan to meet in Virginia next week after Tuesday’s presidential election between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.
Their mission will be to chart the next course for their movement and the Republican Party.
If McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin — the rising star with this set — pull off an upset win, they will be in a jubilant mood. But the meeting seems more premised on the scenario of a McCain loss, which most opinion polls suggest at this point.
“There is a consensus that the Republican Party is in trouble,” said the source, who plans to attend the meeting.
“I think there will be a number of meetings after next Tuesday among social conservatives,” the source said, adding they would be aimed at reigniting the movement and keeping its agenda high in Republican circles.
Religious and social conservatives are a key base of support for the Republican Party who enthusiastically backed President George W. Bush but they have been frustrated in this election cycle.
During the primary elections, they could not rally behind any one candidate. When McCain finally clinched the Republican nomination, many were aghast because of his departure from social conservative orthodoxy on many issues such as stem cell research, immigration and campaign finance reform.
They have been galvanized by Palin, who has brought God and guns firmly onto the ticket. The financial crisis has riveted voter attention on economic woes — although for a core set of activists, evangelicals and conservative Catholics, issues like opposition to abortion rights and gay marriage remain paramount.
The meeting in Virginia next week also seems to be aimed at re-energizing the grassroots of the social conservative movement ahead of the 2010 congressional elections and the 2012 White House race.