As religious conservatives looking for an alternative to Mitt Romney gather in Texas this weekend, one of the participants outlined a guiding principle: “The Buckley dictum” — conservative icon William F. Buckley’s famous line, “I’m for the most conservative candidate who can win.” The Christian leaders don’t particularly want Romney, but they do want to beat Obama in the fall . The conservative confab Friday and Saturday at the Brenham ranch of former judge and Southern Baptist leader Paul Pressler is expected to attract some of the most influential figures in religious politics. Among those invited are radio host James Dobson , the American Family Association’s Don Wildmon (who sponsored Rick Perry’s August prayer rally in Houston), activist Gary Bauer, megapastor John Hagee and others. Some leaders reportedly won’t there: among them, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. Religious conservatives are divided. Despite several meetings and numerous conference calls over the last year, they haven’t rallied around a single presidential candidate to stop Romney’s march toward the nomination.
One of the participants in this weekend’s meeting explained, on the condition of anonymity, that the problem is that different leaders have publicly endorsed different candidates. Some are backing Rick Santorum, some Rick Perry, some Newt Gingrich. The problem, he explained, is that so long as all of them are still in the race, leaders feel they can’t just abandon their candidate in order to coalesce around someone else. So, it’s been a stalemate.