03/28/2008 02:48 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Big Republican Tent, Big Fight

Conservatives are struggling to come to terms with a presidential candidate who doesn't share the nativism of Tom Tancredo, voted against tax cuts, sponsored campaign-finance reform law, and once demonstrated an indifference to abortion and an animus to the leaders of the Christian right.

The attacks on John McCain began before he won the Florida primary. Former House majority leader Tom DeLay said McCain "has done more to hurt the Republican Party than any elected official I know of"--and he will not vote for McCain even if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee.

DeLay is indicted in Texas, working to remain relevant, and hardly a threat to McCain. Rush Limbaugh, however, talks to the largest radio audience in the nation. Electing McCain is "going to destroy the Republican Party," Limbaugh said on the air. "It's going to change it forever, be the end of it."

Limbaugh isn't alone. In one week, right-wing talk show host and author Hugh Hewitt attacked McCain on the radio, in his column, and in a CNN interview. Focus on the Family's James Dobson, whose TV, radio and book combine is focused on the reproductive rights of women and the civil rights of gays, is sitting out the election because McCain doesn't "respect traditional marriage."

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