Flake: Inevitable that a GOP presidential nominee will support SSM

posted at 10:01 am on April 1, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Via Mediaite, which claims that Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) “surprises” Chuck Todd with this answer.  I’m not sure that’s the case, but he probably surprised some of his fellow conservatives — even though Flake assures Todd and Meet the Press viewers that his own views on marriage haven’t changed, and aren’t “evolving”:

“I think that’s inevitable. There will be one and I think he’ll receive Republican support or she will,” answered Flake on the Meet The Pressafter being asked about the possibility.

Todd pressed Flake on his own views on marriage equality, asking him if he would ever change his views.

“I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. i still hold to the traditional definition of marriage,” Flake said.

“In the past I supported repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t tell. I supported the nondiscrimination act a as well but I hold to the traditional definition of marriage,” he said.

Over on Fox News Sunday, GOP strategist Ed Gillespie doesn’t expect the party platform on traditional marriage to change, but believes that support for a constitutional amendment to protect it will dissipate by 2016:

Republican strategist Ed Gillespie said on “Fox News Sunday” that he doesn’t have a problem with the 2016 Republican Party platform saying marriage is between a man and a woman, but suggested that support for a constitutional amendment might wane.

“I don’t think you’d ever see the Republican Party platform say we’re in favor of same-sex marriage,” said Gillespie, who was a top adviser on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. But, he added, “There’s been a little bit of a shift, I think, in terms of Republicans saying we should allow this to be worked out through the states, not imposed by courts, and not imposed federally.”

Don’t be too sure about that.  Politico reports that social conservatives have begun to push back hard on this line of thinking.  Retreating on these issues cost Republicans the presidency in the last five years, they argue:

Leading cultural conservatives, including the movement’s standard-bearers from the past two presidential campaigns, have had it with Republican elites faulting them for the party’s losses and are finally ready point a finger back at the establishment.

“Look, the Republican Party isn’t going to change,” former Sen. Rick Santorum said in an interview. “If we do change, we’ll be the Whig Party.”

Santorum continued: “We’re not the Libertarian Party, we’re the Republican Party.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who carried the Christian conservative torch in 2008, pointed to the drop-off in enthusiasm among Republicans following George W. Bush’s victories.

“The last two presidential elections, we had more moderate candidates, so if anything a lot of conservatives went to the polls reluctantly or just didn’t go at all,” said Huckabee in a separate interview. “If all of the evangelicals had showed up, it may have made a difference.”

Frankly, I don’t think it would have made any difference in 2008.  The nation was just too bitter over the Bush years to elect another Republican, and Barack Obama ran a campaign that took full advantage of that bitterness.  Republicans had a real shot in 2012, but the economy was just good enough to turn the focus on the supposed extremism of Republican fiscal and social policy rather than the failures of the Obama term in office.  A stronger candidate may have made the difference for the GOP, but I don’t think that had much to do with the supposed squishiness of Romney on social issues.

Politico’s Jonathan Martin writes that the silence of social conservatives until now has been “surprising,” but don’t expect it to last.


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