- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Black traditional-values voters, credited with making up the margin that re-elected President Bush in 2004, would be prime targets to join a pro-life third-party protest movement, some on the religious right say.

“If a third-party candidate were running on a moral-values platform, a significant number of religious African-Americans could be attracted to this party,” Bishop Harry Jackson said.

“As black conservative leaders, we would not be opposed to a third party that brings us together with our fellow Christians,” said Bishop Jackson, chief pastor of a 3,000-member conservative black congregation in Beltsville. “Our interests are the same, but the parties have worked hard to keep us apart.”

Black traditional-values voters, spurred to the polls by a state ballot question on same-sex “marriage,” were crucial to Mr. Bush’s victories in Ohio, Florida and other states in the last presidential election.

Leaders of the religious right hope they can depend on these voters, many who are new to the election booth, if they form their own presidential ticket. They are considering such a move if Rudolph W. Giuliani, the national front-runner, wins the Republican nomination.

Free Congress Foundation President Paul Weyrich said it wasn’t affection for Republicans, but rather marriage amendments on ballots in several states in 2004, that “greatly increased the black vote, which turned out for the marriage amendment, which in turn increased the black vote for Bush.”

Mr. Weyrich said it is “way too early” to talk about a third party.

Ken Blackwell, a black Republican who was Ohio’s secretary of state, helped the effort in 2004. He teamed up with a white pastor to mine the Ohio values voters in black and white congregations.

The black vote in Ohio for Mr. Bush increased to 16 percent in 2004 from 9 percent in 2000. Mr. Bush won 11 percent of the black vote nationwide, a CNN exit poll found.

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Robert T. Bennett wasn’t so sure. He said he saw evidence mainly of white evangelicals voting in unusually large numbers in his state that year.

Mr. Blackwell told The Washington Times that he opposes a third party but said it would draw black values voters if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mr. Giuliani were the only options.

He said presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois is aware of a third-party threat to Democrats and “hijacked the language” of black evangelicals on Sunday in a guest sermon at the Redemption World Outreach Center in Greenville, S.C.

Stressing “faith and family,” Mr. Obama said, “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with expressing faith in the public square and I think there’s nothing wrong with public servants expressing religiously rooted values.”

Pollster Scott Rasmussen said his national survey shows potential for a pro-life third-party under the scenario of the religious right.

“If Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination and a third-party campaign is backed by Christian conservative leaders, 27 percent of Republican voters say they’d vote for the third-party option rather than Giuliani,” Mr. Rasmussen said.

His national telephone survey found that in a three-way race with Mrs. Clinton as the Democratic nominee, she would win the general election with 46 percent of the vote, Mr. Giuliani would pull 30 percent and the generic third-party candidate would pick up 14 percent.

The generic third-party vote historically drops with the naming of a real candidate, Mr. Rasmussen noted.

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