The U.S. Constitution is the Tea Party movement’s sacred text. No tea party rally ends without some speaker (or several) extolling the Constitution and condemning ObamaCare for violating it. Sarah Palin has a picture of the 224-year-old document on her tour bus. And in January, at tea partiers’ behest, the 112th Congress opened with a reading of it.
Given the amount of attention the Constitution has been getting in conservative circles lately, it’s a safe bet that it will be on many Republican voters’ minds when they cast their ballots in next year’s GOP primaries. Which is why I thought it would be interesting to see what the Republican Presidential Candidates’ campaign websites have to say about the Constitution.
Surprisingly, in many cases the answer is: nothing.
I couldn’t find any references to the Constitution on Mitt Romney’s campaign site, even though Romney has been dogged by questions about the constitutionality of Romneycare, his Massachusetts Health Care Law.
Herman Cain often mentions the Constitution in his speeches, which is why I was puzzled when I couldn’t find any references to it on his campaign site.
I also found just one reference to the Constitution on Newt Gingrich’s campaign site: “Newt opposes Obamacare and the unconstitutional mandate.”
Four campaigns, however, have gone to great lengths to tie their candidates to the Constitution.
Michele Bachmann’s slogan is “Restoring constitutional conservative values,” and I found nine references to the Constitution on her campaign site, including four in the brief “Meet Michele Bachmann” section. In fact, Bachmann recently wrote an op-ed for The Daily Caller entitled “What ‘constitutional conservatism’ means to me.”
Gary Johnson’s campaign site has a “Civil Liberties” section. In all, I found nine references to the Constitution on Johnson’s site.
Perry’s site makes at least seven references to the Constitution. His campaign biography, which mentions the Constitution five times, says that Perry “will return our country to constitutional principles.”
But Ron Paul’s site, which also promises a “return to constitutional principles,” has more references to the Constitution than all of the other candidates’ sites combined. Not counting references on the campaign’s blog, I identified 42 references, including several references to the Tenth Amendment, the Second Amendment and the First Amendment. You can even purchase a “Constitution” T-shirt ($18.00) and a Ron Paul pocket Constitution ($5.00) at Paul’s online store.
I understand why Mitt Romney would want to steer clear of constitutional debates: Many Republicans believe that his signature achievement, Romneycare, is unconstitutional, so Romney doesn’t have the credibility to position himself as a constitutional conservative.
But I don’t understand why, say, Newt Gingrich isn’t embracing the Constitution. It’s a great way for candidates to appeal to conservatives without alienating moderates. The “constitutional conservative” label could even be an asset in the general election, when the Republican nominee will face a former constitutional law professor who almost never talks about the Constitution.
Peter Tucci is an editor at The Daily Caller.