WASHINGTON – Obviously, a major theme running through the Faith & Freedom Coalition issues conference here Friday was a celebration of the importance of evangelical and social conservative activists in the Republican Party.
“The road to the nomination has to go through this toll booth,” Ralph Reed, chairman of the coalition, told reporters. He’s not really exaggerating. After all, in 2008, 44 percent of Republican primary voters were evangelical Christians, according to an analysis of exit polls.
So it’s not surprising that every 2012 contender for the party’s nomination, except Newt Gingrich, is putting in an appearance at the gathering. What was a little surprising: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s warning to attendees that they should not beware of ideological purity in the primary process.
“We’re going to nominate someone for president who doesn’t agree with you on everything and who you don’t agree with on everything,” Barbour said. “But I’ll tell you what. You’re going to agree with them a whole lot more than you’re going to agree with Barack Obama.”
“Remember, in politics, purity is the enemy of victory,” Barbour said. “We cannot expect our candidate to be pure. Winning is about unity…sticking together to achieve the main thing.”