Dobson Hears Appeals of House Conservatives

Article excerpt

Radio moralist James Dobson, who has threatened to desert the Republican Party and take his 5 million listeners with him, cut short a publicity visit to Washington yesterday after meeting with a group of conservative House Republicans the night before.

Mr. Dobson, who heads the Colorado-based Focus on the Family and whose radio show airs five days a week across the country, had planned to continue his public attacks on Republicans for failing to carry out the social conservative agenda on which, he says, they won office.

But after getting a friendly warning from 25 conservative House Republicans in a two-hour meeting in the Capitol basement Wednesday night, Mr. Dobson canceled scheduled interviews with the editorial board of The Washington Post and the New York Times Washington bureau yesterday.

The assembled lawmakers, some accompanied by their wives, told Mr. Dobson that he should be focusing his attacks on the GOP leadership in Congress and not on Republicans in general, since many of them are trying to accomplish the same goals that Mr. Dobson seeks.

"He shared with us his frustration over the failure of the Republican leaders to address moral and social issues, ranging from acquiescence to the gay agenda to the failure to promote the pro-life agenda and voluntary prayer in the schools," said a prominent conservative House Republican who asked not to be identified.

The same House member, who attended the basement meeting, said the group told Mr. Dobson, "If you criticize Republicans instead of Newt Gingrich, our constituents think there is no difference between Barney Frank and David McIntosh." Mr. Frank is a liberal Democrat from Massachusetts. Mr. McIntosh is a conservative Republican from Indiana.

Rep. Ernest Istook of Oklahoma said, "We raised our concerns about how his comments are being misconstrued as a blanket indictment of all Republicans in Congress."

Most of those in attendance were fans of Mr. Dobson, a psychologist whose moral message has a strong appeal to religious listeners.

"I spend almost all my adult life listening to him," said Rep. …