by Eric Dondero
On Abortion: "Government should stay out of it... The ultimate decision must be made by the women... Government should treat its citizens as adults capable of making moral decisions on their own." -- Fred Thompson, July 1994
It's amazing that all of a sudden we're seeing all these Social Conservatives rallying to Fred Thompson as the "Savior" of the GOP. The Social Cons have never fully trusted Rudy Giuliani. All it took was one small misstep by Giuliani the other day on abortion, for them to bail. Now the Blogosphere is loaded with "Run Fred, Run!" articles and posts.
Are the Social Cons ignorant of Thompson's background?
Fred Thompson has always been a solid Pro-Choice Republican.
Back in the early to mid-1990s, there was a raging battle in the Republican Party between the Moderates/Libertarians versus the Religious Right. On one side there was Ann Stone's Republicans For Choice, the Ripon Society, Log Cabin Clubs and the organization that I had founded in 1990 - the Republican Liberty Caucus. On the other side was the Religious Right. The fight was particularly bitter in Southern States like Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Texas. I can remember setting up Pro-Choice Republican booths at YR Conventions in NC, LA, and GA, and being verbally assaulted by the RR. In some states they even tried to ban me from the conventions.
Tennessee was right smack dab in the middle of it all. The battle was particularly vicious in that State.
The leader of the TN Anti-Religious Right forces at the time was Michael McCloskey. He was a very well-respected Republican activist from the Eastern side of the State. McCloskey was particularly adept at politics. He was articulate, smooth, and quite handsome. Plus, he was well-funded. The RR feared him, immensly.
Needless to say, we in the RLC, linked up with McCloskey pretty quickly when we started organizing our Chapter in the State. Even though he was more of a straight out Moderate Republican we elected him to our National Committee.
McCloskey hosted our National Convention that year in Gatlinburg (near Knoxville). He used the event to gain attention for his anti-Religious Right efforts in the State. And he very cleverly invited a great many prominent Tennessee Republicans (mostly YRs) to attend. National Speakers who attended included Ann Stone, Rich Taefel of the Log Cabin Republicans (Gay & Lesbian GOPers), and Republicans for Marijuana Legalization.
During the same time, Fred Thompson was making noises of running for the US Senate. McCloskey was one of the ones who was influential in recruiting him to run. McCloskey saw him as a Celebrity counter-force to the Religious Right/Pro-Lifers that could win the GOP Nomination.
And the Religious Right, predictably came after Thompson. It was a bitterly fought primary. Thompson's opponent was Religious Rightist John Bakkes. In the end, Thompson's celebrity status carried him through, and he won with 62% to Bakkes's 37%. Many credited McCloskey and his "Young Republican brigades" with helping Thompson's win.
Young Republican Andrew Murphey of E. Memphis was our State RLC Chairman at the time. Murphey worked on Thompson's Senate Campaign. McCloskey got him the job.
In July of 1994, Murphey did an interview with Thompson for Republican Liberty (the official newsletter of the RLC).
In the interview Thompson identified himself as a "Goldwater Republican." At the time being associated with Goldwater, who had just badmouthed Jerry Falwell and was on the outs with the Religious Right, was a codeword for "Moderate/Pro-Choice" or "Libertarian" Republican.
Thompson said in the interview that like Goldwater he was a strong supporter of Middle Class Tax Cuts, Term Limits, School Choice and a Strong Military.
But it was his answer on Abortion that came through loud and clear:
Some conservatives got flustered by your comments on abortion and Roe vs. Wade. Would you like to explain your position on abortion?
Government should stay out of it. No public financing. The ultimate decision must be made by the women. Government should treat its citizens as adults capable of making moral decisions on their own.
The perfect libertarian position.
For us libertarian Republicans it was right-on. But it's only a tiny bit better than Rudy Giuliani's current position. With Giuliani's very recent clarification, only yesterday distancing himself from government funding, the difference is even less if not entirely non-existent.
I'm a big Rudy guy. But if Fred's the Nominee, I'll be perfectly happy. Cause I know that in reality, he's a Pro-Choice Republican.
So either way we libertarian Republicans win. Rudy or Fred: It's the Social Cons, who will have to accept our Pro-Choice Republican candidate for once.
Ironic that their once bitter enemy Fred Thompson is now their Number One Choice of a Standard-bearer. I dare say that alone is a Major Victory for us libertarian Republicans.
*Note - Eric Dondero is the Founder of the Republican Liberty Caucus, and served as the RLC's first National Chairman from 1990-93. He also served as Senior Aide to US Congressman Ron Paul from 1997-2003. He is currently CEO of MainstreamLibertarian.com which covers news of the libertarian Republican movement on a daily basis.