he fried chicken chain Chick-fil-A has become the unlikely epicenter in the battle for gay rights, with conservative voters across the country flocking to Chick-fil-A franchises to express their support for chief executive Dan Cathy, who earned criticism from liberals for voicing his opposition to gay marriage. Prominent Republicans got in on the act, with Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Rep. Louie Gohmert (Texas), and Sarah Palin all posting photos of themselves at Chick-fil-A restaurants on social media. However, one high-profile Republican has been conspicuously uninvolved: GOP standard-bearer Mitt Romney. The presidential candidate says the Chick-fil-A controversy is "not part of my campaign," a stance which may play poorly with members of his party. Should Romney throw his weight behind Chick-fil-A?
Yes. He should show his support for traditional marriage: "It should be easy for Romney to stop at a Chick-fil-A for a photo-op (and a sandwich!)," says William Kristol at The Weekly Standard. And he should use "his credit card to pay ahead of time for the next several members of the military who show up for a meal." The sight of "Mitt munching on a Chick-fil-A sandwich" would not only be "the right thing to do," but "politically smart, too."
"Romney to Chick-fil-A?"
No. He'd turn off undecided voters: Chick-fil-A is "the right's culture war emblem of the moment," but Romney has to realize that the Republican "primaries are over and he won," says Paul Waldman at The American Prospect. It's hard to think of a "single thing Romney has done or said" that would constitute the "move to the center" that candidates are supposed to undertake as November draws near. Instead of "relentlessly pandering to the right," Romney should avoid the culture wars and target those undecided voters.
"Mitt Romney doesn't realize the primaries are over"
Actually, Romney needs conservative turnout: Turnout may be the deciding factor in November, and "the sheer number of people" descending on Chick-fil-A franchises suggests that Romney might be wise to secure their support, says Timothy Stanley at CNN. The country "is settling down into two, surprisingly partisan camps of voters who probably won't change their minds significantly," and if Romney can "motivate conservatives to turn out in big numbers, then the Chick-fil-A moment could prove prophetic."
"Is Chick-fil-A turnout a preview of November?"
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