Judge Roy Moore’s entry into the presidential race means much more than just another candidate joining the fray. Danny Carroll is backing Moore’s candidacy. That means the defection of one more prominent former Mike Huckabee supporter. It could also signal the end of Carroll’s relationship with The Family Leader. Moore launched his presidential exploratory committee Monday, with Danny Carroll by his side.
Judge Moore became a hero to many conservatives by placing a Ten Commandments monument in his courtroom and fighting a lengthy legal battle to keep it there. Eventually, he was forced to step down from the Alabama Supreme Court after refusing to remove the display. Moore has made several visits to Iowa in the past year. He spoke at a Tea Party rally in Spencer on Saturday, as well as The Family Leader’s “Let Us Vote” rally at the State Capitol last month.
Danny Carroll introduced Moore at the “LUV” rally last month. Moore’s speech blistered the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision that opened the door for gay marriage in the state. “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 told the crowd. (WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW)
Carroll is the former board chairman of the Iowa Family Policy Center, which is now part of Bob Vander Plaats’ Family Leader organization. Carroll is currently a paid lobbyist for The Family Leader at the State Capitol. He is accompanying Judge Moore on a 25-stop, weeklong Iowa tour.
“The Judge has asked me to help him with an Iowa organization and I’m honored to be a part of that,” Carroll said during an interview with WHO Radio’s Jan Mickelson on Monday. “I’ve been impressed with the judge’s stand for some time and I’ve particularly been impressed with his qualifications and experience as we look at the upcoming Iowa Caucuses. More to the point, someone who has the intimate legal knowledge and understanding of the Constitution of the United States of Iowa.” (Yes, Carroll said “United States of Iowa.”)
Carroll’s support of Moore creates a very interesting dynamic to The Family Leader’s aspirations. Frankly, it damages the impact of their potential endorsement of a presidential candidate. CEO Bob Vander Plaats has repeatedly said they want to “influence pro-family policy from the schoolhouse to the White House.” To do that, they need to help their chosen candidate get there. The Family Leader can play a very influential role in determining the Iowa Caucus winner. By throwing its full support behind one candidate, that campaign receives a ready-made, statewide grassroots organization.
Unless the Family Leader organization also endorses Moore, the group will be splintering its power by helping two rival candidates. This move by Carroll could be a sign that his relationship with The Family Leader is coming to an end. For good or bad, Danny Carroll is synonymous with the Iowa Family Policy Center. He was the public, and very vocal, face of the organization before Vander Plaats’ arrival. Now, Carroll will spend the next several months trying to convince people to vote for Moore. Following its November debate, The Family Leader will likely begin lobbying the same people to vote for a different candidate.
Danny Carroll’s support of Roy Moore also means another departure by a key backer of 2008 Iowa Caucus winner Mike Huckabee. Some of the former Arkansas Governor’s most ardent supporters are urging people to withhold their support of another candidate until Huckabee decides whether or not to run. However, the losses are mounting. Huckabee’s 2008 Iowa staff and some of his top grassroots organizers are committed elsewhere. Huckabee still has plenty of backers in Iowa, but the longer he waits, the more supporters he loses.
Although Roy Moore successfully campaigned for election to the Alabama Supreme Court, his lack of electoral success since then rivals Bob Vander Plaats. Moore has run for Governor twice in Alabama, and lost badly in the GOP primaries both times. He was defeated by a 2-1 margin in 2006 to incumbent Bob Riley. Moore ran again in 2010, finishing 4th.
Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich are all trying to gain favor with the Iowa GOP’s evangelical base. Moore’s entry further splinters that voting bloc. He does pass any “purity test”. The former judge’s focus on the Constitution and Biblical topics could appeal to a segment of caucus goers, but gaining traction might be difficult.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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