dore_moses.jpgThe GOP nomination race just got a whole lot more interesting.  Via the NYTimes:

…The threat emerged from a group that broke away for separate discussions at a meeting Saturday in Salt Lake City of the Council for National Policy, a secretive conservative networking group. Participants said the smaller group included James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family, who is perhaps its most influential member; Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council; Richard A. Viguerie, the direct-mail pioneer; and dozens of other politically oriented conservative Christians.

Almost everyone present at the smaller group’s meeting expressed support for a written resolution stating that “if the Republican Party nominates a pro-abortion candidate we will consider running a third-party candidate,” participants said.

The participants said that the group chose the qualified term “consider” because it had not yet identified an alternative candidate, but that it was largely united in its plans to bolt the party if Mr. Giuliani, the former New York mayor, became the nominee….

Some players in the movement not present at the meeting may be open to Mr. Giuliani as the lesser of two evils. For example, the Christian Broadcast Network, founded by the Rev. Pat Robertson, has provided relatively generous coverage to Mr. Giuliani and his campaign.

I think we can officially say that Reagan’s 11th commandment has been retired.  So much for that whole judge not (in public) thing.  But it looks like the various factions and egos and belief systems are showing some significant cracks in the public morality play that is the “Christian Coalition.”  It’s been going on behind the scenes for years, but seeing it spill out into deliberate public media leaks is a refreshing change, and indicates a broader set of questions on the struggle for dominance and power — and money control — in the GOP.  Let the games begin.

(Image from an illustration by Gustave Dore.  Incredibly detailed work.)

PS — Huge congratulations to John Amato and Crooks and Liars for surpassing the 115 million visitor mark.  Kudos and great work!  Love ya…

UPDATE:  NickM in the comments points to Digby’s post on the Salon take on all of this.  This from Digby is exactly right:

My point is that a significant conservative constituency is actually threatening to run a third party candidate if they don’t get their way and yet all we ever hear about is how the Democrats are being led down the path to perdition by the Move-On hippies who are pushing them to respond to the large majority of Americans who want the US to begin withdrawing from Iraq.

As I said in the comments in response to NickM, everything with these people is, first and foremost, about fundraising. How better to rattle the collection plate than a sham kabuki dance on “principle” that you never intend to really follow through but, instead, will end up settling back into the GOP lockstep line after the primaries, coffers full.