Will McCain VP Pick Be a Ridge Too Far for Pro-Lifers?
Commentary by Peter J. Smith
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 14, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Senator John McCain has stirred up passions among GOP social conservatives after the Republican presidential candidate indicated he might consider pro-abortion and former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge as his Vice-President. New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, however, did not make the cut for McCain, because Bloomberg is both pro-abortion and pro-gay.
McCain revealed in a Wednesday interview with the Weekly Standard that he was open to a pro-abortion running mate, unsettling social conservatives who have had uneasy feelings about supporting a candidate who once referred to leaders of the religious right as "agents of intolerance."
McCain told the Standard’s Stephen F. Hayes: "I think that the pro-life position is one of the important aspects or fundamentals of the Republican Party.
"And I also feel that - and I’m not trying to equivocate here - that Americans want us to work together. You know, Tom Ridge is one of the great leaders and he happens to be pro-choice. And I don’t think that that would necessarily rule Tom Ridge out."
"I think it’s a fundamental tenet of our party to be pro-life but that does not mean we exclude people from our party that are pro-choice. We just have a - albeit strong - but just it’s a disagreement. And I think Ridge is a great example of that. Far more so than Bloomberg, because Bloomberg is pro-gay rights, pro, you know, a number of other issues."
The selection of Ridge as a running mate for McCain would put Pennsylvania’s 21 electoral votes in play according to GOP strategists, who believe that Obama is not resonating with blue-collar Democrats there. Obama losing Pennsylvania might be just enough to clinch the presidency for McCain, translating into another four years of GOP control of the White House. Obama stirred up ire earlier this year when he insulted small town Pennsylvania voters, saying in the economic downturn "they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion."
The selection of Ridge may encourage ‘moderate’ (liberal) Republicans to line-up for McCain, but also have the disastrous effect of depressing voter turnout among the GOP’s large conservative base, should it feel its support is taken for granted. In this case, the McCain camp would have to bet that the specter of an Obama presidency would be enough to offset his base’s dissatisfaction to get them to the polls and pull the lever for McCain.
An additional four years of a GOP controlled White House could hold the promise of changing the Supreme Court make-up decidedly against Roe v. Wade. Roe overturned would once again place abortion in the hands of the states. A report from the Center for Reproductive Rights indicates that at least 30 US states are poised to restrict or ban abortion once Roe falls. (http://www.womensenews.org/PDF_files/What_if_Roe_Fell.pdf)
McCain’s openness to a pro-abortion VP pick, however, vexes social conservatives, especially since McCain has had a tumultuous history with them and they are worried about the depth of his commitment to the causes that resonate most deeply with them.
McCain co-authored the greatest restrictions on political free speech in the United States under the guise of "Campaign Finance Reform," which effectively muzzled the ability of pro-life lobbying groups to pay for ads calling a candidate on the carpet for his positions leading up to an election.
The Arizona Senator’s pro-life credentials have also been called into question over his continued advocacy of embryo-destroying stem-cell research. Despite well-documented evidence proving the ethical and qualitative superiority of adult stem cell therapies, McCain has not abandoned his support for embryonic stem cell research, which, by contrast, has still yielded no therapies or cures despite overwhelming government funding worldwide.
McCain is expected to name his VP choice within the next week or so, before the Republican National Convention kicks off September 1.
Possible pro-life VP candidates mentioned have been Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty or Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has been floated as a VP pick, although the McCain campaign savaged his pro-life credentials during the primary by highlighting a May 2005 press conference in which Romney told reporters he was committed to the "status quo" on "abortion and choice."
Besides Ridge, the other pro-abortion running mate whom McCain might consider is Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, former US Vice President Al Gore’s running mate. Both Lieberman and McCain have a good relationship, although the choice of a non-Republican and abortion advocate may just be a bridge too far for conservatives waiting for a McCain to reach out to their interests and not take their support for granted.
"What if Roe Fell Chart" predictions from Center for Reproductive Rights available here:
See related coverage by LifeSiteNews.com:
McCain Meets Privately with Fr. Pavone - Says Constitutional Right to Life Applies to Unborn
McCain and the Pope: McCain cannot win in November without the Catholic vote
How is he going to get it?
McCain’s Rejection of Roe v. Wade Seems As Wobbly as His Rejection of Gay "Marriage"
McCain: "No, I don’t Believe in Gay Adoption"
Why did McCain not Defend Himself on Gay "Marriage" on Ellen’s Show? The Official Answer
McCain spokesman Q&A with Catholic journalists answers some interesting questions