Ten Commandments judge speaks against same-sex marriage, intends to run in 2012
Days ago Roy Moore, a former Alabama chief justice known for his refusal to remove a Ten Commandments monument from court property, stood on the steps of the Iowa Capitol and voiced his opposition to same-sex marriage rights in the Hawkeye State. Now he’s considering a much longer Iowa engagement while he pursues the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
Zachery Michael, an aide to Moore, told CNN Monday night that an official announcement of Moore’s presidential exploratory committee will be made in April.
Moore will potentially seek the nomination because “we’ve seen the same type of politician running for president – the elitist type,” Michael said. “What sets him a part is he can connect to all Americans and has an idea of what Americans are going through. We are seeing the same types of people run and we aren’t getting anywhere.”
Moore became a celebrity of social conservatives in 2003 when he refused a federal court order to remove a self-commissioned monument depicting the Ten Commandments from the grounds of the Alabama court. After being removed from his judicial post as a result of the incident, Moore unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for Alabama governor once in 2006 and a second time in 2010.
According to CNN’s interview with Michael, the move into an already flush field of Republicans considering a bid for the White House was being considered by Moore as early as September 2010, following trips into Iowa where Moore garnered support from local tea party and religious activists.
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Roy Moore, a former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice, spoke at a rally in Des Moines on behalf of those who object to same-sex marriage. (Photo: Tyler Kingkade/The Iowa Independent)
Moore has made at least five public visits to the Hawkeye State since the Iowa Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in April 2009. Most recently he served as the keynote speaker at a Des Moines rally organized by Bob Vander Plaats, head of the conservative Family Leader organization, to pressure Democratic lawmakers into allowing a popular vote on civil marriage rights.
“No society is prepared to deal with the problems arising out of same-sex marriages; child abuse, adoption, divorce, foster care, alimony, and the list goes on and on,” Moore said as the crowd nodded in agreement and called out in support.
Many Iowans are aware that actor and conservative activist Chuck Norris endorsed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee during the 2008 presidential contests, and also that Norris loaned his star-power to then-gubernatorial candidate Vander Plaats in 2010. Vander Plaats was not, however, the only gubernatorial candidate that earned a nod from Norris. Also on the list was Moore, who was seeking Alabama’s governorship. Moore, who lost his first bid for the GOP nomination by a roughly two-to-one margin, finished fourth in the 2010 primary, having garnered roughly 20 percent of the vote.
The balloon being floated by Moore’s people comes at a time when socially conservative GOP candidates have found significant favor among Iowa Republicans. Although local party activists continue to hold the type of small gatherings with potential presidential candidates that have made the state’s first-in-the-nation status famous, socially conservative organizations have long been hosting much larger rallies and multi-city events around key issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion.
As Iowa Republican Doug Gross noted in a recent interview with The New York Times, “We look like Camp Christian out here. If Iowa becomes some extraneous right-wing outpost, you have to question whether it is going to be a good place to vet your presidential candidates.”
The politically fertile ground in Iowa has definitely sprouted a wealth of socially conservative politicians who are at least considering a 2012 run, but it remains to be seen if the roughly 60 percent majority of So-Con Iowa caucus-goers can simultaneously keep two or three candidates viable and, thus, in the national spotlight. Even in 2008, when Iowa’s religious-minded focused their attention on Huckabee, the push forward wasn’t enough to convince other early states — not even with predominantly fiscal candidates U.S. Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney splitting more moderate support.
If, however, two or three strict social conservatives remain in the race and wind up splitting evangelical support in the Hawkeye State, the situation could produce a small opening that might be used to a centrist candidate’s advantage.