Focus on the Family founder Dr. James C. Dobson gave Jeb Bush some valuable air time July 22, devoting a half-hour broadcast to a one-on-one interview with the Florida governor, who is up for reelection this year.
The ostensible topics of the radio interview were Bush's reading initiative and his private school voucher program, two initiatives that Dobson supports. Bush's reelection effort was not discussed, but the interview, which consisted of a series of softball questions from Dobson, gave Bush valuable national exposure--and an implicit endorsement--shortly before the Florida primary and upcoming general election. The president's brother is expected to face a close race in November.
2002 marks the 25th anniversary of Focus on the Family, and Dobson has been celebrating in part by becoming more political. In the past few years, the leader of the tax-exempt Religious Right powerhouse has personally endorsed several Republican candidates for public office. (Federal tax law permits religious leaders to endorse candidates as long as their tax-exempt ministries are not involved.)
Most recently, Dobson gave his blessing to Tony Perkins, a Republican seeking a U.S. Senate seat from Louisiana. Perkins, currently a member of the state House of Representatives, hopes to make his way into a runoff with incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu in November. In an open letter, Dobson praised Perkins for his conservative views and for championing "covenant" marriage and anti-abortion legislation while in the statehouse.
"Not only will he vote to protect marriage and the unborn, he will advocate for those issues," Dobson wrote.
Perkins is jockeying with two GOP rivals--U.S. Rep. John Cooksey and former New Orleans City Council member Suzanne Haik Terrell. Under Louisiana's election laws, all of the candidates will compete in an "open primary" on Nov. 5. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the two top vote-getters will face each other in a runoff election Dec. 7.
The Washington Times reported in August that national GOP leaders are backing Terrell but that Religious Right activists in the state favor Perkins and have vowed to sit out the runoff if he does not make it in.
In other news about the Religious Right:
* Former Family Research Council head and failed presidential candidate Gary Bauer has teamed up with a right-wing rabbi to form a new pro-Israel organization called the American Alliance of Jews and Christians.
Joining Bauer in the...