Social conservatives slam RNC for supporting Rob Portman

The RNC shouldn't be "pandering idiots," they said

Published March 19, 2013 1:03PM (EDT)

Social conservatives told the RNC not to be "pandering idiots," after Chairman Reince Priebus stood by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who over the weekend came out in support of same-sex marriage.

From the National Review Online:

“I think [the RNC] should pretty much ignore him,” says Phyllis Schlafly, a longtime conservative activist, in an interview with National Review Online. “I think he has made a mistake, and he probably won’t get reelected.”

Ralph Reed, the founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, says the party has to be careful. “If the Republican party tries to retreat from being a pro-marriage, pro-family party, the big tent is going to become a pup tent very fast,” he says. “I am concerned that some in the party are going wobbly on this issue.”

Brian Brown, of the National Organization for Marriage, told NRO that Portman will now likely get a challenger in the primary. “This is a critical issue, and to act like it’s just no big deal is just wrong."

And Gary Bauer, the head of American Values, told NRO: “What we shouldn’t do is say to the electorate, ‘Just tell us what you want us to be! We’ll change for you! Just tell us what you want us to do, we’ll do it!’” He continued: “That’s not a political party, that’s just a bunch of pandering idiots.”

Portman said over the weekend that he now supports gay marriage, attributing his change of heart to his son being gay. "I had a very personal experience, which is my son came to Jane, my wife, and I, told us he was gay and that it was not a choice, that’s just part of who he is and that he had been that way since he could remember," Portman said.

On Monday, Reince Priebus said he supports Portman "doing what he wants to do, as an elected person and as an American."

“I think that there isn’t anyone in this room, Republican, Democrat, in the middle, that doesn’t think that Rob Portman, for example, is a good conservative Republican. He is. And we know that," Priebus said.

By Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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