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And by the way, who asked him?

August 29, 2007 |  2:58 am

As the founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, the nonprofit conservative ministry that wields considerable influence among Republican Christians from its luxurious ridge-top headquarters in Colorado Springs, James Dobson receives numerous GOP politicians making their required Focus pilgrimage.

Over coffee they sit by a glass table with an expansive view of the Rocky Mountains out the window. Dobson quizzes his visitors about their record on abortion and family issues and doesn't hesitate to offer his own blunt opinions about their opinions and record. Dobson's group cannot officially endorse any political candidate. Not in his newsletters or publications. Not from his own radio studio just down the hall where he regularly talks to millions on some 2,000 radio stations.

However, that did not stop Dobson himself from endorsing George W. Bush in 2004. He's holding his counsel now. But he has spent considerable time in recent months as a private citizen announcing whom he will not be voting for.

At the top of Dobson's unendorsement list is Rudy Giuliani. In a commentary on WorldNet, the Focus leader said he had made an irrevocable decision not to vote for the former New York mayor on the basis of moral issues such as abortion and domestic partnerships for homosexuals.

In fact, given the choice between Giuliani and Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, Dobson said he might for the first time in his adult life not vote. Those kind of words send chills down the spines of Republican campaign managers because Dobson's opinion is thought to sway millions of evangelical Christians.

Back in March, Dobson told U.S. News & World Report he wasn't all that keen on former Sen. Fred Thompson, who isn't a candidate officially yet but is getting very close. Dobson acknowledged the Tennessean held strong views about the pro-family movement, which was good, but added, "I don't think he's a Christian."

As we noted here the other day, Dobson and Thompson are believed to have talked since and, as Thompson's announcement day approaches, his former family pastor has come forward to recall the former senator's baptism. Stay tuned.

In January on a radio program Dobson told the host he could not support Sen. John McCain either because of the restrictions of the McCain-Feingold bill and new proposals, supported by and named for McCain, to limit the ability of groups such as Focus to reach constituents with action messages on pending legislation.

Dobson has said some good things about Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who repented to Dobson on-air about his own extra-marital affair even while criticizing Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Gingrich, he said, is the "brightest guy out there." Gingrich, however, is technically not in the GOP race, though he keeps shouting an awful lot of advice from the sidelines for a dis-interested non-candidate. He also keeps popping up on prominent TV programs and plans a major "solutions" seminar in late September.

Given the remaining Republican field of eight announced nominee wannabes and at least two ponderers, there remains an ample supply of other candidates available for Dobson to not endorse in coming months.

--Andrew Malcolm

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