THE SLOW REBELLION OF THE SOCIAL CONS.

Marc Ambinder reported this morning that Iowa Christian Alliance president Steve Scheffler is not going to follow Christian Coalition co-founder Pat Robertson's lead and support Rudy Giuliani. That's not too much of a surprise, as the Iowa branch of once-vigorous Christian Coalition was so disgusted by the scandals of the national group that it broke with the Coalition and changed its name to the Christian Alliance in March 2006, saying "the Board... would rather function as an independent organization than as an organization shrouded with perceptions contrary to its Christian commitments."

Now the Iowa Right to Life Committee's president, Kim Lehman, says she won't be following in the footsteps of her former favorite candidate, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, either. Brownback yesterday endorsed Arizona Sen. John McCain, who has a 74 percent pro-life voting record according to the Iowa group, and Lehman had previously endorsed Brownback, in January, and then served on his Iowans for Brownback Leadership Committee.

"I'm not following Sen. Brownback on what he does. I supported him personally back in January because of his commitment and his activism on the issue and his consistency, and what he does is his personal decision," Lehman told The Prospect this afternoon. That said, "I think if Sen. McCain were to win the nomination for the country, I think everyone will get behind him, including myself."

A major factor keeping Lehman from lining up behind McCain right now is that there are only three viable candidates left in Iowa, she says -- and he's not one of them. And between Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Fred Thompson, only the latter two have the pro-life bona fides she seeks. "It’s a dead tie between Huckabee and Thompson," she explained. "Thompson has a 100 percent pro-life voting record, and Huckabee has never waved or had to go back and forth. He's just been pro-life." Her group has not yet made a formal endorsement, but will probably do so eventually in order to stave off what she sees as an even greater threat than flip-flopping.

Like Scheffler, Lehman, whose group boasts 20,000 members, is a major Giuliani skeptic. "We certainly would not like Giuliani to win because he's anti-life and he's a sure loser for the Republican Party," she said. In fact, should the national party pick Giuliani as its standard-bearer, Lehman predicted a blow-out for the Democrat nationwide and a sure Democratic win in Iowa.

"I hate to be the reminder to the Republican Party at the national level, but a lot of their base is staunch pro-life Christians and they're not going to come out to vote for Giuliani," she said. "They might as well just save themselves the money and hand it over to the Democrats."

"Giuliani will not be getting the votes -- I don’t care who the other candidate is," she warned. "It's a prediction you can take to the bank."

--Garance Franke-Ruta

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