It sometimes seems that only the most extreme candidates can make it through a primary these days. This is true for both parties. In the 2012 GOP race, social issues seem to matter most to primary voters. The problem is that sometimes views that are a must for primary voters, are not so palatable to general election voters.
The pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony list drew up a pledge and asked that all the GOP candidates sign it to prove their pro-life bona fides. All the candidates in the running at the time, except for Herman Cain, Gary Johnson and Mitt Romney, have signed the pledge. According to the SBA List, Jon Huntsman was sent the pledge via express mail and has a week from tomorrow to sign it. Santorum has apparently decided that Huntsman is a threat to his own campaign and has made an ad mocking him about the pledge (TPM).
The SBA List has taken this refusal to mean that the three are not as committed to the pro-life movement as the others, namely: Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum. They have made their displeasure known with Romney bearing the brunt of that dissatisfaction. The group issued a statement questioning Romney's sincerity to the pro-life movement, "Governor Romney refused to take the pledge and his explanation raises more questions than answers. In good conscience, we cannot let this rest."
Romney issued his own pro-life pledge in response. Romney promises that he is as devoted to the cause as any other GOP candidate but that he could not in good conscience sign a pledge that was as broad as the SBA List pledge was written. He is not alone in believing that the pledge is too broad. Even Redstate thinks the pledge is problematic. According to Redstate, Cain opted not to sign the pledge because he believes that it violates the separation of powers clause. Johnson is "simply not comfortable signing a pledge that would commit him to applying a pro-life litmus test to executive branch appointments."
Fred Karger was not sent the pledge, which makes sense as he has stated that as far as he is concerned, Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, and he is pro-reproductive rights. The problem for Karger is that as much as he claims to be in the 2012 GOP race, no one else seems to be taking him seriously at all, if they even know who he is. When contacted, the SBA List had no idea he was running or even who he was. Fred Who, indeed.
Karger is also for marriage equality, leaving him very much the odd man out in the 2012 GOP race. Huntsman is on the record as being pro-civil unions pre-decision to run. None of the other candidates seem at all interested in promoting marriage equality or even civil unions. Although both Cain and Paul seem rather reluctant to make marriage a federal issue. Bachmann, Gingrich and Romney are on the record as believing that marriage is solely between a man and a woman. Santorum fully backs a Federal Marriage Amendment. Pawlenty has stated that he believes the Defense of Marriage Act should be defended.
Is marriage equality such a central issue with primary voters, and what will taking such a hardline stance do to them in the general election when it seem that public opinion on the issue is changing (FrumForum)? Will it be enough of a red flag to turn off the independent voter? It is worth thinking about for anyone who wants to actually win in November 2012.