I, like most people, found this very interesting:
A powerful group of conservative Christian leaders decided Saturday at a private meeting in Salt Lake City to consider supporting a third-party candidate for president if a pro-choice nominee like Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination.
The meeting of about 50 leaders, including Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who called in by phone, took place at the Grand America Hotel during a gathering of the Council for National Policy, a powerful shadow group of mostly religious conservatives. James Clymer, the chairman of the U.S. Constitution Party, was also present at the meeting, according to a person familiar with the proceedings.
As Steve Benen notes, the USCP has ballot access in 41 states, and with institutional backing like this it should have no problem getting on the ballot in the other nine. What’s really interesting is that, if the comments section at TPM Election Central is to be believed, Dick Cheney and Mitt Romney were there as well. Neither of them would really work as candidates; people sufficiently chagrined by Rudy’s social views to field a third party candidate probably wouldn’t think Romney much better, and Cheney both has Mary as a daughter and has expressed opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment. But if this suggests that mainstream Republican figures like Romney and Cheney are willing to bolt if Rudy’s nominated, that’s huge. This could be the biggest rift within a party in a presidential election since George Wallace ran in 1968.
And I suspect it could also be the best chance for a third party candidate to get electoral vote since Wallace did so in 1968. I could easily see a candidate like Bauer or Roy Moore or Mike Huckabee winning a three-way race in a state like Arkansas or Alabama or South Carolina. Generally speaking, these are going to be electoral votes that would have otherwise gone to the Republican. This doesn’t put the Democrat closer to 270, of course, but it keeps the Republican further away.
Because of that possibility, I think that whoever the CNP chooses will have to run a much more traditional campaign than, say, Ralph Nader ran. Nader’s base of support was with urban leftists. This meant that his strategy of “super rallies” in major urban areas both reached his target audience perfectly and got the best possible bang for their buck. He knew he wasn’t getting electoral votes, but had figured out an unorthodox, but highly effective way of maximizing his popular vote percentage. But the CNP candidate will have their base of support in rural areas, meaning that expensive retail campaign will be necessary. Instead of flying from huge rally to huge rally he’ll have to go from state fair to state fair, just like a typical primary candidate in Iowa.