Two weeks ago, as social conservatives gathered in New Orleans for the annual National Right to Life Convention, they were courted by Republican presidential candidates like Sen. Marco Rubio and former Sen. Rick Santorum.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush sent a produced video, featuring two anti-abortion activists and his own remarks. In the video, recently uploaded by Bush's campaign under the title "Defending Life," Mark Merrill, a Tampa-based radio host and author of "All Pro Dad," vouches for Bush. “He stands strongly for life,” says Merrill.
Bush and Merrill go back a long way, most notably when Merrill chaired a commission under then-Gov. Bush devoted to "Building Florida's Families," chiefly by focusing on marriage promotion. These days, Merrill's Twitter profile says he is "sharing parenting, marriage & relational truth," often through popular blog posts.
For Merrill, that truth is fairly gendered. His advice for fathers to their daughters:
“Be a Lady.” Teach her to be a lady in the way she dresses. Girls can be modest and still be trendy. It means to use lady-like language…crassness and cussing are very unattractive. It means to use good manners. It means to draw physical boundaries and let men know that her body is reserved exclusively for her future husband.
There's a pretty stark divide between the advice Merrill offers to husbands and wives. For example, "Filling the 4 Chambers of Your Husband's Heart" counsels, "We also want our wives to validate our manliness. A man wants to be a hero to his wife." The counterpart directed at men says, "Cherishing and safeguarding her physically and emotionally leads to her being protected."
Some of Merrill's advice goes both ways for men and women. In one post, he advises spouses to "stop flaunting your body to others. This applies to men and women. Our culture does not value modesty, and when you flaunt your features, it appears you’re advertising yourself or are available to others. Dress like you’re only available to one person, your spouse. Because that’s the only person you should be available to."
A representative for the Bush campaign didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Merrill's role in the campaign.