Tony Perkins Predicts a ‘Chick-fil-A Election’
Tuesday, November 6, 2012 08:02 AM
By: David A. Patten
Christian evangelicals’ enthusiasm is approaching historic levels, and they are poised to turn out in droves Tuesday to deny President Barack Obama’s re-election bid according to conservative Christian leader Tony Perkins.
Perkins tells Newsmax that the surge in evangelicals opposing Obama’s re-election bid could take the pundits by surprise Tuesday, just as many analysts were surprised at the long lines that formed outside Chick-fil-A restaurants in August.
Perkins says that on a recent campaign swing in Missouri with Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor remarked: “This could very well be the Chick-fil-A election.”
This summer, many observers were caught off guard by Christians’ solidarity in supporting the restaurant chain’s pro-family policies. And it may happen again on Election Day, Perkins says.
“They were taken by surprise on the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day when people stood in line for hours to buy a chicken sandwich,” Perkins says. “I think they may be taken by surprise tomorrow when people stand in line to take back their country.”
Perkins’ Family Research Council (FRC) has visited 28 states over the past 14 months to hold voter registration drives. Those efforts have added some 500,000 new “value voters” to the rolls, a total that does not include the voter-registration efforts of other social-conservative organizations, he says.
In an exclusive interview, the FRC president tells Newsmax that the enthusiasm among evangelicals is approaching a level he hasn’t seen since 2004, when evangelicals were largely credited with returning George W. Bush for a second term. That election is generally considered the high-water mark for evangelical-voter enthusiasm.
This weekend, Perkins visited churches in Dayton and Cincinnati. He tells Newsmax “there is a real sense that this nation is being not just led but driven in the wrong direction by Barack Obama. One of the major concerns is over religious liberty and freedom.”
Perkins isn’t the only observer of Buckeye politics predicting that a rising evangelical vote in Ohio may surprise the pollsters, who have consistently reported Romney trails Obama there by a very narrow margin.
Former Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell told the Washington Times’ Ralph Z. Hallow on Monday that Buckeye State evangelicals “will surpass their 2004 turnout for Bush, and that, coupled with the movement of Reagan Democrats away from Obama, will provide Romney a winning edge.”
According to Perkins, Romney’s performance in the first presidential debate convinced evangelicals he could be trusted with the job.
“That debate I think may go down as one of the most important presidential debates in history, because he established himself as a leader deserving of the trust and the confidence of the people,” Perkins tells Newsmax. “It’s taken a while for evangelicals to work through the theological differences that they have with Mitt Romney.
“But they’ve come to recognize that they have a shared set of values that they can use as a bridge to the Romney campaign, something they don’t share with Barack Obama,” Perkins adds.
Perkins says Christians are well educated on the issues, and primarily base their votes on a candidate’s policies. And in that sense, he says, the presidential choice is rather stark.
“We’ve got someone here who shares your values, who is for traditional marriage, supports the sanctity of life, and then on the other side you have someone who doesn’t,” Perkins says. “It’s a pretty simple issue.”
The Christian leader tells Newsmax there is a “high probability” that a Romney win would stem from his surging support from evangelicals, which has flown under the media radar. Perkins asserts the mainstream media have largely overlooked the impact that evangelicals will have on the 2012 presidential race.
“They just don’t want to pay attention to it,” Perkins says. “With the early messages that social issues don’t matter, this is not going to be an election driven by social issues — and what has the president and his campaign been talking about? It’s all about social issues. And I think in some ways it’s an effort to suppress the conservative turnout.
“But folks get it. The Washington Post's description of evangelicals as being poorly educated and easily led is just not true. And that’s been proven time and time to be false,” he says.