Nine months ago, Jim Garlow, an evangelical pastor and leader of California’s anti-gay marriage initiative, called Mitt Romney “untrustworthy” and “not visceral on the issues that are cardinal to me.” It was a sentiment shared widely among religious conservatives.
On Sunday, Garlow stood in his San Diego pulpit and told his flock he was voting for Romney. “I did make an endorsement,” he later said by way of explanation. In backing Romney he was simply “endors[ing] Biblical principles.” More than 1,000 other right-wing preachers Garlow had organized to participate in “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” did likewise.
Evidently they’re not taking Romney’s late pivot to the moderate center too seriously. And why should they, when the candidate tells the Des Moines Register on Tuesday, “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda?” and then only a few hours later pledges to The National Review that “he would of course support legislation” limiting abortion?
Which one of these guys is the “real Romney”? It scarcely matters. He and his campaign are tied to some of the most wild-eyed sexual fundamentalists and religious extremists in the country. They have his ear now and they’ll have it if he wins. Many, like Garlow, are mobilizing votes for him. And they’ll expect — demand — that Mitt drop the moderate schtick once in office.
Consider just a few of Romneyland’s big-name zealots, and ask yourself how likely it is that abortion — or birth control or reproductive health in general — will remain off Mitt’s “agenda.”