Two days before the election, Paul Ryan made an urgent appeal to evangelical supporters, claiming that President Obama’s policies lead down a “dangerous path” which is contrary to “Judeo-Christian values.”
“It’s a dangerous path,” said the Republican nominee for vice president during a public “tele-town hall” hosted by the evangelical Faith and Freedom Coalition. “It’s a path that grows government, restricts freedom and liberty, and compromises those values, those Judeo-Christian, Western civilization values that made us such a great and exceptional nation in the first place.”
The Faith and Freedom Coalition was founded by Ralph Reed, a Republican operator with ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. After a few years in political exile, Reed returned to the center of conservative politics this year as a major supporter of the Romney-Ryan campaign.
Ryan’s observation that Obama’s “dangerous” policies would “[restrict] freedom and liberty” echoed the language of a mailer printed and distributed by the Faith and Freedom Coalition, which raised the possibility that Obama’s policies pose a “threat to freedom” on par with Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Ryan, unlike the mailer, stopped short of making comparisons between the Obama White House and totalitarian regimes.
Though religion has not been at the forefront of Romney’s campaign message, Ryan’s remarks appear to be part of a ninth-inning push to boost evangelical turnout. On Oct. 25, the bombastic media personality Glenn Beck appeared as one of the guests of honor (along with Dick Cheney) at a Romney-Ryan fundraiser in Texas. Beck, who often frames his message in terms lifted straight from the Book of Revelations, counts among his supporters such prominent evangelical pulpit thumpers as James Dobson and John Hagee.
Mitt Romney, a Mormon, has been largely silent on matters of faith, instead choosing to orient his argument around economic issues. In speaking to the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Ryan—a devout Catholic with a long legislative record of opposition to abortion—served as the campaign’s bridge to the hard line Protestants within the Republican base, some of whom may still feel less than enthusiastic about supporting a Mormon candidate for president.
A campaign spokesman told NBC News that Ryan was addressing “issues like religious liberty and ObamaCare” with his remarks.