WASHINGTON, DC – A conservative activist and political commentator predicts three 2008 Republican presidential candidates will set themselves apart from the rest of the pack over the next year.
The three candidates Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation is referring to are Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Weyrich, who has been involved in politics for decades, says twice Governor Huckabee had him "on the seat of his chair" during a recent forum. According to Weyrich, the former Baptist preacher "can speak like no other candidate."
"He is dynamic, he is exciting, he believes in all the right things," says Weyrich in describing the Arkansas governor. "I think that if conservatives really got behind him, that they would bump him up to be a first-tier candidate."
As for Newt Gingrich, Weyrich says the former Speaker is "always good out of office, but as soon as he gets in office, he isn't good anymore."
And when it comes to Romney, Weyrich offers a cautionary note, saying conservatives need to be wary, given the governor's flip-flopping on front-burner issues like abortion and homosexual "marriage."
"Governor Romney is going to make an attempt to sound like us," say Weyrich. "[But] I don't think he is; I don't think he's the genuine article. And I think he really ought to be closely examined, especially for the flip-flops he now claims he's done on abortion, on same-sex marriage, on any number of issues — including hate crimes, by the way."
The Free Congress Foundation founder also offers his take on Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, describing him as a "wonderful" candidate for social conservatives, but one who lacks "fire in the belly" and is not likely to go very far.
Meanwhile, it appears that a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination is taking steps to attract the evangelical element of the conservative movement. According to NewsMax.com, former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton has hired Burns Strider as an "evangelical consultant" to help woo Christian conservatives to her likely campaign.
The report suggests that Strider will "take his cue" from consultant Mara Vanderslice, a political operative who helped Democratic candidates make inroads among evangelical and Catholic voters during the recent mid-term elections.