Phyllis Schlafly, the conservative activist who spearheaded the anti-feminist movement in the 1970s, has endorsed Michele Bachmann for the Republican presidential nomination.
If I were an Iowa voter, I would be making plans right now to cast my vote for Michele Bachmann for president on Jan. 3, Schlafly, 87, said in a statement on Monday, about a month before Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses. I hope you will take advantage of this golden opportunity to support a candidate we can all be proud of.
In endorsing Bachmann, Schlafly cited the Minnesota congresswoman's leadership skills, Christian faith and family life, as well as her conservative positions on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.
Michele has the courage to be a leader among her peers. She is a real champion in speaking up for values we care about, she said. Michele is a woman of faith and the mother of a beautiful family. She has a 100 percent pro-life record and is a strong supporter of traditional marriage.
Schlafly has less influence now than she did at her prime, when she was part of the successful campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment, which would have added to the Constitution the clause, Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Given her dwindling prominence, it is unclear how much of a boost her endorsement will give Bachmann's campaign.
Schlafly argues that men and women are fundamentally different and that, while women should have the option of careers, their primary roles should be as wives, mothers and homemakers. Feminism is no substitute for traditional marriage, she wrote in 2003. Careers are no substitute for children and grandchildren.
This jibes with some of Bachmann's own statements about the role of women in society -- although there is some irony in Schlafly endorsing Bachmann for the most prominent career in the country.
For example, at one Republican debate in August, she said that she had gotten a post-doctorate degree in tax law at her husband's request, even though she didn't want to: Tax law? I hate taxes, she recalled thinking. Why should I go into something like that? But the lord says, be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands. She later said that by submissive she meant respectful, not subservient.
Poll Numbers Remain Low
Bachmann is polling at about 8 percent in Iowa and 5 percent nationally, but that's based on polls conducted before Herman Cain dropped out of the race on Saturday, and Bachmann is one of several candidates who believe they will get a share of Cain's voters.
She is adamant that, despite her low poll numbers, she will pull out a win in Iowa, where she won the Ames Straw Poll in August. She has based her campaign largely on an appeal to voters not to settle for a candidate who is not wholly conservative.
I'm the only candidate in this race that's been the consistent, no-surprises conservative, Bachmann told Fox News last week. President Obama is wildly unpopular across the United States. That's why the key message is, we don't have to settle. We can have it all in a candidate and we need to have it all in a candidate, because this is a highly unusual election.
The polls don't necessarily agree.
Obama beats Bachmann by a 14-point margin in the RealClearPolitics.com poll average for Nov. 8-16, the most recent data available. In fact, Bachmann fares the worst against Obama of any Republican candidate. The candidate who does best against Obama is Mitt Romney, and he is statistically tied with the president in recent matchups. Obama is also statistically tied against a generic Republican challenger.
These polls make it clear that, while Obama's approval ratings remain low and he is certainly vulnerable, a Republican victory next November is far from guaranteed, and it does matter who the nominee is. Obama is unpopular, but that doesn't mean an automatic win for his opponent.