Top leaders at Focus on the Family have rejected a report that the ministry’s founder, Dr. James Dobson, is preparing to announce his endorsement for Presidential contender Mike Huckabee.
In its "Prowler" column posted shortly after midnight Friday, The American Spectator cited “sources close to Dobson” who say that the prominent evangelical leader is “coordinating an endorsement plan with the former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee” within the next ten days.
Tom Minnery, senior vice president of Focus on the Family, sent an email later that day to the magazine denying claims of Dobson’s upcoming endorsement.
"There is absolutely no truth to your blog report that Dr. Dobson is about to endorse Governor Huckabee. Dr. Dobson is not close to endorsing anyone in the 08 presidential primary. I expect you to make a correction,” read the email, according Minnery’s account to the National Journal.
Focus on the Family’s communications chief Gary Schneeberger also denied the report, spokesman Nema Reza told WorldNetDaily.
But the Spectator said an update Friday afternoon that its sources are standing by their report.
The magazine said it contacted the sources that initially spoke in the background about the Dobson endorsement and they “insisted that as of last night, plans were being put in place by the Huckabee campaign for an announcement and endorsement tour, and stood by their account.”
The Huckabee campaign apparently isn’t aware of such plans by Dobson as well and is planning to issue a statement on the matter, reported WorldNetDaily. The campaign also said that it while it would welcome the support of the evangelical leader, and Huckabee "greatly admires his work," it could not confirm the report.
Fox News reporter Carl Cameron said Friday that the Spectator report prompted a telephone conversation between Dobson and Huckabee the same day.
While Cameron confirmed there will be no imminent announcement, he added that an endorsement is not out of the question.
Although Dobson has never endorsed in a presidential primary, Minnery told the National Journal, he has not “ruled out” stating an endorsement this year.
Rumors of Dobson’s endorsement come shortly after other influential Christian evangelicals made the move to back presidential hopefuls.
On Thursday, Don Wildmon, founder of American Family Association, announced his personal endorsement of Huckabee. And founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, Pat Robertson, made his endorsement of Rudy Giuliani during a press conference Wednesday.
Dobson has indicated in past reports that he would not support Giuliani because of his position on abortion. He also said in a private e-mail sent to colleagues in September that he won’t be supporting Fred Thompson.
The Huckabee source to the Spectator said Dobson’s endorsement could give the former Arkansas governor’s campaign a fundraising edge that would allow it “to compete with at the same level with the top tier candidates,” such as Thompson or Sen. John McCain.
The magazine also noted the board of the National Right to Life Committee is holding a meeting this weekend to discuss a potential endorsement strategy.