Romney Faces Skeptical Social Conservatives

Written by Noah Kristula-Green on Friday October 7, 2011

It is the political conventional wisdom that Mitt Romney has a problem with evangelical voters. Ever since he lost the Iowa caucuses in 2008 to Mike Huckabee, Romney's appeal to the socially conservative base has been in doubt. Whether Romney can appeal to these voters is the question that looms over the Values Voter Summit currently being held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington DC.

FrumForum went to over to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) booth to get their thoughts on the Mitt Romney. Christopher Plante, the Northeast Regional Coordinator for the group, was initially very positive on several multiple candidates, noting that Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Mitt Romney had all signed NOM's pro-marriage pledge, calling them "four very good candidates."

When I asked Plante if socially conservative voters actually trusted Mitt Romney, he couldn't help but laugh a little, "you probably overheard the conversation I was just having!" Indeed, FrumForum had approached Plante after one conference attendee had spoken with Plante extensively about why he had difficulty trusting Romney.

Plante acknowledge to FrumForum that Romney will face significant scrutiny from the attendees at the summit "I'm sure that he will be continued to be pressed on these issues. People here are going to press him on his social conservative bona fides."

Plante made clear that Romney did not hesitate to sign NOM's pledge though, and did say that Romney had made  "a commitment to marriage" which NOM could support.

Of course for socially conservative voters, the abortion is just as important as gay marriage, and Romney is not a signatory to the Susan B. Anthony's List's pro-life pledge.

Susan B. Anthony Communications Director Ciara Matthews told FrumForum that her group "takes Mitt Romney at his word" that he is a pro-life candidate and noted that he provided his own pro-life pledge to National Review Online.

Romney's problems with socially conservative voters can be seen in other small ways at the conference. FrumForum spoke to he cashier at the Values Voters Summit book corner, which sells campaign books and other conservative literature. As of around 11:00 a.m. they had sold roughly 25 Herman Cain books, and only 2 Mitt Romney books.

One convention-goer that FrumForum caught up with in the hall after Santorum's speech said he was more impressed with Santorum after the speech than he was before he'd heard it. Why? "His strong stance on abortion."

Did the newly minted Santorum supporter trust any other candidates? There was a smirk of disgust, followed by two simple words: "Not Romney."