Iowa evangelicals still can’t find a good non-Romney candidate

Each acceptable candidate keeps imploding, to the annoyance of the religious right

Topics: Religious Right, Religion, 2012 Elections, War Room, Republican Party, Iowa caucuses, Newt Gingrich, Catholicism, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney,

Iowa evangelicals still can't find a good non-Romney candidateMitt Romney and Newt Gingrich (Credit: AP)

Pity the poor Iowa evangelicals, who have no one to vote for in the upcoming caucuses. I mean, they have far-right Catholic Rick Santorum and genuine millennialist evangelical believer Michele Bachmann, but Bachmann is crazy and Santorum is creepy, so what they’re actually looking for is someone electable who isn’t also a Mormon.

Jason Horowitz has the story, for the Washington Post, and I bet he was thrilled to get this bit of color into the paper:

In 2008, evangelical support washed over former Arkansas governor and Southern Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee, but this year [Iowa Right to Life executive director Jenifer] Bowen expressed bewilderment at the theological and electoral calculations that were leading conservative-values voters to bestow their blessing on one candidate after another.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Bowen said, as she set down a basket filled with fetus dolls.

Mitt Romney is largely unwilling to submit to public inquisitions regarding his faith, which means he can only pander so much to evangelical voters. We’re talking about people who still need some convincing before they’re willing to vote for a Catholic, so he’s probably correct to write off the real fundamentalists.

The story begins with Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Bachmann and Santorum appearing at an Iowa antiabortion event that Mike Huckabee headlines, but all anyone wants to talk about is Romney’s faith and Gingrich’s marital (and religious) history. Attention-seeking religious right windbag Bob Vander Plaats offers his take (Catholicism is basically OK now, Mormonism is weird, Ron Paul doesn’t like Israel enough). Santorum is still banking on his hating gays and abortion more than all the other candidates, but most people quoted seem to be talking themselves into supporting a surging Gingrich.



But the tale of evangelicals looking for a candidate is fun mostly because it involves moralistic people choosing between adulterers and buffoons. Polling suggests evangelicals — like other GOP primary voters — are simply looking for an electable not-Romney, and they are not finding one. (Though they should swing wildly to Paul or, god help us, Santorum sometime this week.)

(OK, one more bit worth quoting: “‘When you go to bed at night and bend your knees, who are you bending your knees to?’ Vander Plaats asked.”)

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Api Étoile

    Like little stars.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Calville Blanc

    World's best pie apple. Essential for Tarte Tatin. Has five prominent ribs.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chenango Strawberry

    So pretty. So early. So ephemeral. Tastes like strawberry candy (slightly).

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chestnut Crab

    My personal fave. Ultra-crisp. Graham cracker flavor. Should be famous. Isn't.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    D'Arcy Spice

    High flavored with notes of blood orange and allspice. Very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Esopus Spitzenberg

    Jefferson's favorite. The best all-purpose American apple.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Granite Beauty

    New Hampshire's native son has a grizzled appearance and a strangely addictive curry flavor. Very, very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hewes Crab

    Makes the best hard cider in America. Soon to be famous.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hidden Rose

    Freak seedling found in an Oregon field in the '60s has pink flesh and a fragrant strawberry snap. Makes a killer rose cider.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Knobbed Russet

    Freak city.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Newtown Pippin

    Ben Franklin's favorite. Queen Victoria's favorite. Only apple native to NYC.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Pitmaston Pineapple

    Really does taste like pineapple.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>