An influential Christian broadcaster said Saturday that while GOP leaders have calmed tensions with religious conservatives, he'll be watching to be sure Republicans stay true to right-wing voters that helped elect them.
James Dobson, who threatened to leave the GOP over conservative issues, said "there isn't any question" that Republicans have insulted Americans who care about family values and stopping abortion."Now maybe that's about to change," he said in an interview on CNN's "Evans and Novak" broadcast Saturday.
"I want them to listen to the people who put them in power," said Dobson, founder and president of Focus on the Family, a ministry in Colorado Springs, Colo. "I want them to pay attention to the issues that burn within the hearts of the primary constituency of the Republican Party. . . . If they won't do that, then they ought to lose."
He added that he will personally campaign for someone outside the GOP who represents his values if the party fails to support conservative points of view.
Republicans hold a narrow advantage in the House and cannot afford to have conservatives - their most active voters - boycott the polls. At the same time, they don't want to alienate moderate voters in November.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich and other GOP congressional leaders met Friday with Dobson and other Christian conservatives to try and heal the rift.
In the sometimes contentious meeting, each side aired complaints but left with a common agenda that included eliminating a tax penalty for married couples, scrapping federal funding for the arts and enacting anti-abortion and religious freedom legislation.
House leaders also established a working group, to be led by Rep. Joseph Pitts, R-Pa., to meet weekly with religious right leaders to forward their agenda.
Most social conservative leaders who were there said afterwards that the two groups made progress in working together.