Social conservatives have threatened to abandon the Republican Party and support a third party presidential bid if their concerns are marginalized by a pro-choice presidential candidate.
A break-away group of influential activists issued this warning at the Saturday meeting of the Council for National Policy in Salt Lake City. The group included Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
Richard Viguerie, one of the break-away conservatives, explained the motive behind the statement: "There's a general feeling among social conservatives, as well as economic conservatives, that they have been betrayed by the Republican Party." The group, however, has not chosen a candidate for their proposed third party campaign.
Social conservatives’ discontent is in part a response to the success of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, a pro-abortion candidate who also favors homosexual marriage. Currently, Giuliani is one of the front-runners in the Republican primary race. He has described himself as “personally opposed” to abortion, following a rhetorical device popularized by former New York governor Mario Cuomo. The phrase is often used by Catholics who support abortion rights.
A socially conservative third party candidate could split the Republican Party and lead to a victory for the Democrats in November of 2008.