The National Right To Life Committee will announce its presidential endorsement in the Republican primaries tomorrow, and according to early reports, Fred Thompson won the brass ring. In its way, the NRLC's selection may be even odder than Pat Robertson's endorsement of Rudy Giuliani, especially considering that Thompson spoke of his opposition to a Constitutional amendment banning abortions:
Fred Thompson will pick up the support of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) tomorrow, according to two Republicans familar with the decision.
For a candidate who came up empty-handed last week when three prominent Christian conservatives endorsed GOP hopefuls and is falling in both national and early state polls, the move comes at a critical time.
NRLC is the most prominent anti-abortion group in the country, with affiliates in all 50 states and over 3,000 local chapters.
A spokesperson for the organization declined to comment on their endorsement decision, but Thompson was likely rewarded for his strong pro-life voting record in the Senate. As Thompson frequently touts on the stump, he rated out at 100% on the group's report card.
I don't mean to denigrate either candidate. While I have not made a decision on the primary race, most of the Republicans would make excellent Presidents, including Thompson and Giuliani. However, the endorsements both have received go against the stated interests of both organizations.
The NRLC endorsement of Thompson makes some sense. After all, Thompson does have a strong pro-life voting record -- but then again, so do Mike Huckabee and Duncan Hunter. Has either come out in opposition to the Right to Life amendment? I don't believe so -- and since that has been one of the primary goals of the NRLC, endorsing a candidate who opposes them on that question seems more than a little peculiar.
Like the 700 Club/Robertson endorsement of Giuliani, it's the timing that makes it so strange. No one would think twice about either endorsement in the general election, especially given Robertson's rationale about Giuliani and the war on terror. The NRLC doesn't even have that as a fig leaf, since the NRLC focuses on one particular issue, and Thompson doesn't provide the best match on it. (I should note that I actually like Thompson's approach far better than the NRLC on the question.)
Apparently, various organizations want to move beyond their core issues in this wide-open primary, and of course they have the right to make that choice. One has to wonder whether their constituencies will follow along, or see both as cynical ploys for better access later.