MOORE: THE NADER OF THE RIGHT?

John Fund reports,

A big threat to President Bush’s re-election could come if his conservative base chooses not to turn out and vote in large numbers this fall. That’s one reason he told a congressional Republican retreat on Saturday that he supports spending caps on the exploding federal budget. But the president could also still face a challenge from a social conservative running as a third-party candidate.

In the past such candidacies have fizzled. But Roy Moore, the ousted Alabama Supreme Court justice who made headlines last year by refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument he placed on public property, could make a difference in a close race. And just last week, he refused to rule out a presidential candidacy.

A lot of people want him to run. Last Saturday, Mr. Moore was a featured speaker at the Christian Coalition’s “Family and Freedom” rally in Atlanta. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported he was “treated like a rock star, signing autographs and getting thunderous standing ovations.” The week before that, Mr. Moore was the speaker at a dinner in Lancaster, Pa., sponsored by the Constitution Party, which has the third-largest number of registered voters in the U.S. and whose presidential candidate, Howard Phillips, was on 41 state ballots in 2000.

During a question-and-answer period, Mr. Moore was asked if he would run for president. “Not right now,” he said, noting he is still appealing his dismissal from office for violating a federal court’s order to remove the monument from the Alabama Supreme Court building. “I have to wait till all these things are done to decide my future.” His friends say he is undecided about whether to run for president or to wait two years and seek Alabama’s governorship.

While I don’t think Moore will drain enough votes to seriously hurt President Bush in the Deep South if John Kerry is his opponent–Bush is still quite popular with the religious conservative part of the base–his impact could be significant in places like Florida where the vote will be tighter. And if John Edwards somehow gets the nomination, a Moore candidacy would be fatal unless he’s counterbalanced by a significant spoiler on the Left.

Hat tip: Dean Esmay

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. McGehee says:

    I think most religious conservatives can do the arithmetic. If as you say “Bush is still quite popular with the religious conservative part of the base” I really doubt they’d go as lemmings off the cliff to support Moore, and thus by omission help elect any Democrat — nominally Southern or not.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Well, you’d think Democrats could do the arithmetic, too, but many voted for Nader in 2000 and handed the election to Bush. I think Moore could get into the high single digits in many Deep South states but that Bush would still win them. But it wouldn’t take much to lose Florida.

  3. SwampWoman says:

    Yes, but possibly you misinterpreted what the Nader vote was, James. In my case, I couldn’t stand the thought of voting for Al Gore so I voted for Ralph Nader instead, knowing he didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell. (I would have been a Democrat voting for McCain if he would have been the Republican candidate.)

  4. Steven says:

    I think that Nader’s appeal to doctrinaire leftist, especially dedicated ideological green was a different kind of appeal than Moore might have for evangelical Christians, insofar as the areas in which Bush can be criticized from the right aren’t on social conservative issues, so aside from riding the Ten Commandments pony one more time, I am not sure what Moore would even campaign on.

    In other words, I think that there are some green-types who truly feel alienated by the current party system, while more conservative Christians likely see Bush as one of them.

    Still, you make a point about a place like Florida, assuming that it is in any way similar to 2000.

  5. Moe Lane says:

    Isn’t it a bit late for third-party types to get themselves on the ticket anyway?

  6. James Joyner says:

    Moe,

    It’s getting late to run as an independent. My guess is he’d get the nomination of the Natural Law Party or some such and thus be guaranteed ballot access.

  7. Paul says:

    You are going to have to start putting first names in the title. It was all the way to graph 2 and I was still wondering how Michael Moore was going to steal conservative votes from Bush.

    Then I had to go back and reread graph 1.

  8. It’s worth noting that Florida wouldn’t have been nearly as close if the state hadn’t been called prematurely for Gore before the polls closed in the panhandle–which, of course, is in a different time zone (and ideologically distinct from the rest of FL). I suspect the attitude there is now, “I don’t care what they say on TV; I’m voting anyway.”