Prominent evangelical leaders are warning Sen. John McCain against picking former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as his running mate, saying their troops will abandon the Republican ticket on Election Day if that happens.
They say Mr. Romney lacks trust on issues such as outlawing abortion and opposing same-sex marriage and because he is a Mormon. Opposition is particularly powerful among those who supported former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in the Republican presidential primaries earlier this year.
“McCain and Romney would be like oil and water,” said evangelical novelist Tim LaHaye, who supported Mr. Huckabee. “We aren’t against Mormonism, but Romney is not a thoroughgoing evangelical and his flip-flopping on issues is understandable in a liberal state like Massachusetts, but our people won’t understand that.”
The Rev. Rob McCoy, pastor of Calvary Chapel in Thousand Oaks, Calif., who speaks at evangelical events across the country, told The Washington Times, “I will vote for McCain unless he does one thing. You know what that is? If he puts Romney on the ticket as veep.
“It will alienate the entire evangelical community – 62 million self-professing evangelicals in this country, half of them registered to vote, are going to be deeply saddened,” Mr. McCoy added.
Mr. Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, was the favorite of evangelical voters in the Republican presidential nomination contest earlier this year and won more delegates per dollar spent than any other candidate in either party.
Other well-placed Christian conservatives say that although many evangelical leaders could accept and work for a McCain-Romney ticket, Mr. Huckabee’s supporters tend to be “rabid” in their views against Mr. Romney because of his faith: They do not regard Mormonism as a Christian denomination.