Speaking to the people in the audience, one found that many knew little about him besides the fact that he was the guy who wanted a truce on social issues while judges impose same-sex marriage and the new health care law paves the way for taxpayer funding of abortion. “I could never vote for someone like that,” says one middle-aged woman who came from Tennessee to attend.
It’s a situation not unlike that faced by Phil Gramm during the 1996 presidential race. Like Daniels, the Republican senator from Texas had been a stalwart social conservative and had compiled a particularly strong pro-life voting record. Gramm took all the right positions in his official platform. But with his background as an economist, he preferred to run as a green-eyeshade government-cutter. When social conservative leaders met with Gramm to try to persuade him to talk about more than money, he demurred.
“I’m not a preacher, I can’t do that,” Gramm was later quoted as saying. “I’m not running for preacher, I’m running for president.” The social conservatives stormed out. James Dobson fumed to reporters that he had entered the meeting planning endorse Gramm for president and now couldn’t vote for him. Gramm’s failure to consolidate economic and social conservatives ended up dooming his presidential campaign, and he ultimately won fewer votes than either Pat Buchanan or Steve Forbes.