Dallas Log Cabin members turned off by Romney’s remarks
As things stand now, there’s no doubt which candidate members of Log Cabin Republicans’ Dallas chapter plan to support for the party’s presidential nomination.
“The clear winner is going to be Rudy [Giuliani],” said Rob Schlein, president of the gay political group’s Dallas chapter.
“He tends to be more inclusive socially. I think he believes in civil unions,” Schlein added. “He’s strong on issues that make us Republicans, like strong national defense, lowering tax rates and that sort of thing. I think he offers the right mix for us.”
The former New York City mayor is known to have many close gay friends, and he has even dressed up in drag as a joke during an appearance.
Schlein said Giuliani’s most prominent rival, Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, lost any hope of support from the Dallas group during an appearance here last spring. About 10 members of the group attended the Dallas County Republican Party’s Reagan Day celebration on April 11, where they met Romney during a VIP reception.
During his speech at the dinner Romney said he opposed same-sex marriage, which was expected, but he went on to say that he opposed civil unions as well.
“He knew we were there,” Schlein said. “I felt like that was a direct assault to our table because it seemed to us he was already satisfying the people in that room by saying he was against gay marriage. The added comment was more directed at us.”
Schlein said Romney’s changed stances on “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and abortion from liberal to conservative sides have left doubts in voters’ minds about his credibility.
“Romney has been morphing into someone who is appearing to be conservative,” Schlein said. “It’s hard to know where he stands. He’s been flipping and flopping pretty drastically on a lot of issues.”
Schlein said Log Cabin Republicans were pleased by a remark former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee made during a televised debate among Republican presidential candidates on Nov. 28. When asked if he wanted the support of Log Cabin Republicans, Huckabee said he would welcome it.
“He said we may not agree philosophically on all social issues, but we can focus on the broader issues that make us Republican,” Schlein said. “That’s kind of what Log Cabin has been saying forever. We liked his answer.”
Schlein said he doubts that Huckabee, whose popularity in polls has risen in recent weeks, has the organization or the money to be a frontrunner for the presidential nomination, but he might become a running mate as a vice presidential candidate.
Schlein said he believes that Arizona Sen. John McCain’s “time has passed,” and that he will not be a contender in the November 2008 election.
Although none of the candidates at last week’s debate vowed they would rescind the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, Schlein said he believes Giuliani’s answer to the question was promising. Giuliani said he did not think it was the right time to lift the policy, but that he would likely defer to the suggestions of top military chiefs on the issue.
“I think he left himself plenty of wiggle room on that question,” Schlein said. “I understand he’s got to win the primary. He seems open to the idea. I don’t think it was a firm no.”
Schlein said he believes that despite Giuliani’s social liberalism and his several divorces he would eventually be acceptable to mainstream Republicans and socially conservative ones.
“I think they really prefer a victory in 2008, versus the perfect candidate,” Schlein said.
Jonathan Neerman, who is a candidate for Dallas County Republican Party chair now running unopposed, said he sees the strongest support in Dallas for Giuliani and Romney. They have raised the most money in Dallas and in the rest of Texas among Republican candidates, he said.
“They’re here virtually every week using Dallas as an ATM machine,” Neerman said. “They’re here doing fundraisers all of the time.”
But for the first time in decades, the Republican nomination for president remains wide open, Neerman said. Voters are still trying to “get their arms around what is going on and what they want to get behind,” he said.
Social conservative support seems to be shifting from former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson to Huckabee, Neerman said.
“It’s all over the map,” Neerman said. “People have different views about each candidate, and each has his strength and weaknesses. I don’t think one candidate has garnered the overwhelming support of the mainstream Republicans here in Dallas.”
Neerman said he doubts that Giuliani’s social liberalism and strong gay support would rule him out from becoming the Republican’s Party’s presidential candidate.
No one can be ruled out at this point, Neerman said.
“Everybody is writing McCain as dead,” Neerman said. “John McCain was in prison camp for a while. Until he says that he is out, I don’t believe he is out. There’s a chance he could still survive.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 7, 2007