Thinking About NRLC's Endorsement Of Thompson

Why did the National Right To Life committee and NRLC PAC decide to endorse Fred Thompson? We won't know until tomorrow's press conference, but here are some theories

(1) His record in the Senate. It's strong and solidly pro-life. Rebuttal: But other candidates -- John McCain, Duncan Hunter, have better records. ... And Thompson was just as much of a force behind McCain-Feingold as McCain... and he lobbied on behalf of pro-choice causes in the early 1990s...

(2) Political calculation -- Duncan Hunter can't win; Mike Huckabee is too independent and allegedly alienates fiscal conservatives; Mitt Romney is going to be beaten and the abortion policies of his Mass. health care plan are a problem; Thompson will win in the South. Thompson will owe the NRLC. Rebuttal: The NRLC isn't generally like that; more than almost any interest group, it's faithfully represented the interests of its 3000 chapters and hundreds of thousands of members. And so far as political calculations go, Thompson's standing in early state polls has been declining.

(3) Huckabee hatred: the one person in the race who doesn't have to pander to pro-life activists has aroused the ire of the Beltway establishment. Rebuttal: again, the NRLC prizes itself on its independence.

(4) They forgot McCain-Feingold: Remember, NRLC and its affiliates are as responsible as anyone for the fight against the issue ad provisions of BCRA. Thompson has backed away from his support of those provisions, but his support of the thrust and principles behind McCain-Feingold is undeniable. Rebuttal: ??

The right-to-life community has no favorite candidate at this point; Washington insiders favor Thompson; some of the key state activists favor Romney (who was effectively pro-choice until three years ago); many shy away from Huckabee (the most pure of the bunch) because he would alienate other parts of the conservative coalition; John McCain’s campaign finance heresy was too painful to ignore.

Some may see the above as signs of confusion, but it’s really a sign of a mature political movement, comfortable in its own diversity.