The straw poll and what really mattersLet me apologize for being among the last to blog the result and my opinion thereon of the straw poll at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference sponsored by The Hotline. For those that are unaware of the result, Rob Huddleston also has a breakdown, and he participated in the poll:
Bill Frist 36.9%
Mitt Romney 14.4%
George Allen 10.3%
John McCain 4.6%
Mike Huckabee 3.8%
Sam Brownback 1.5%
Rudy Guiliani 1.1%
George W. Bush 10.3%
Condi Rice 2.2%
On one hand, the result is somewhat predictable because the Senior Senator from Tennessee won a straw poll taken in his home state. On the other hand, 36.9% is low compared to the numbers I thought Frist would garner. As Rob Huddleston was keen to point out, 42% of Tennessee voters in this poll did not vote for Frist. Rob won't reveal who his primary choice was, but knowing how conservative Rob is (as much or more so than I am, and I have been told that when I walk into a room, I force people to lean to the right to get a good look), I'd be willing to say there is a good chance it was not Frist, though I think Rob likes Bill Frist personally-and might have voted for him.
The "write in George W." campaign was a McCain stunt, and The Hotline had reported that the White House was not at all pleased with it. It makes you wonder how much better McCain might have done had the stunt not been pulled, or how much worse that 36.9% number would have looked for Bill Frist.
Some of you may be asking (and I have gotten private e-mails demanding to know): "Dave, just what is your problem with Senator Frist?" There are three issues about Frist that bother me. The first is that we had a perfectly good Senate Leader in Trent Lott, who was railroaded because he was trying to say some nice things to the late Strom Thurmond. I strongly feel that Frist positioned himself to pounce on Lott's downfall. What he should have done is lead an effort to tell the world "Trent Lott is our Leader, and we do not give a flying flip-flop what the press and the Democrats think." The ability to weather storms such as the Thurmond-Lott problem and tell the press and the Party Opposite to go ruminate to themselves about it is the mark of a united and loyal party.
Secondly, Frist tries to be all things to all people. Yes, he led the way to get the President's good judges on the bench, but I think he only did so because the Party and the grassroots demanded it. If public sentiment had been different, I question whether Bill Frist would have stayed the course as a matter of principle.
Thirdly, I really question the man's pro-life credentials (in fairness, I question Mitt Romney's also, his record as Governor of Taxachusetts has been rather ambiguous, and after seeing him on Meet the Press this morning, I question whether George Allen is really pro-life as well) and for me that is a deal-breaker. Senator Frist supports so-called stem-cell "research" on test tube embryos using the logic that it is okay for some babies to die in order that we might all benefit. Sorry, Bill, no dice with me. It is not fine with me for mankind to be fooling around in the Realm of the Divine, that smacks rudely of the Tower of Babel, and we all remember what the Lord did about that unsavory situation.
On the other hand, Senator Brownback has been solid on the issues that matter most, and he is solidly and throughly pro-life. I will not vote for any candidate of any party that gives quarter to the Forces of Death. I feel so strongly on the matter that if there were a race between a pro-life Democrat and a pro-death Republican, I would be forced to hold my nose and vote for the party I have never voted for in my life. I would hope I never have to be placed in such an awful situation.
I want to thank both Rob Huddleston and Adam Groves for their excellent coverage of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. Both of these fine gentlemen helped make the conference come to life for those of us who could not attend. I'd be lying if I said that reading both of their accounts did not make me green with envy wishing that I, too, could be blogging the story from Memphis. After all, hearing Lamar Alexander sing and play "Long Distance Information, Get Me Memphis, Tennessee" would be worth the trip all by itself.
Rob and Adam, God Bless you both and thank you for all you do for our Party.