Dobson: What Rove Said About Miers

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Trying to reassure his flock about the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers, James C. Dobson set off a firestorm last week when he said that Karl Rove had told him some things he "probably shouldn't know" that led him to believe Miers "will be a good justice." With the Right on a rampage over what some saw as a betrayal, Dobson spoke of "things that I'm privy to that I can't describe because of confidentiality." Had Dobson received an assurance from Rove that Miers, now the White House counsel, would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade? Democrats suspected so, and said they would call Dobson as a witness at her confirmation hearing, which is likely to begin late this month or in early November.

Facing increasing criticism, Dobson announced he would come clean on his Wednesday radio program. In a transcript of the show recorded Tuesday, he says Rove gave him permission to make public their conversation, which occurred two days before Bush's announcement. In brief: Rove assured him Miers was a strong Evangelical Christian—and that some other female candidates supported by the Right had withdrawn their names from consideration.

According to Dobson, Rove said the President "was looking for a certain kind of candidate, namely a woman." Rove added that Miers "was at the top of the short list of names under consideration," but that others had withdrawn from consideration. "Some of the other candidates who had been on that short list, and that many conservatives are now upset about, were highly qualified individuals that had been passed over," Dobson says. "What Karl told me is that some of those individuals took themselves off that list and they would not allow their names to be considered, because the process has become so vicious and so vitriolic and so bitter, that they didn't want to subject themselves or the members of their families to it."

It's hard to overstate the power of Dobson's voice among social conservatives, making him a real life raft for the White House at a time when many in the movement have greeted the pick with skepticism, disdain and outright opposition. A licensed psychologist and former professor of pediatrics, Dobson is perhaps best known in the secular world for his 3-million-seller "Dare to Discipline." His official biography says he has "consulted with President George Bush on family related matters." Focus on the Family says he is heard on 2,000 radio stations in the U.S. and is heard by more than 200 million people around the world every day.

Dobson says on Wednesday's "Focus on the Family" broadcast that the information from Rove that reassured him was "what we all know now: that Harriet Miers is an Evangelical Christian, that she is from a very conservative church, which is almost universally pro-life, that she had taken on the American Bar Association on the issue of abortion and fought for a policy that would not be supportive of abortion, that she had been a member of the Texas Right to Life." Even so, Dobson says, Rove didn't tell me anything about the way Harriet Miers would vote on cases that may come before the Supreme Court. We did not discuss Roe v. Wade in any context or any other pending issue that will be considered by the court."

Miers still has strong public backing from the White House. On Tuesday, the President and the First Lady teamed up for a vigorous defense of Miers in a live interview with Matt Lauer of NBC's "Today" show at a Habitat for Humanity site in Louisiana, with Laura Bush saying that the nominee is "very deliberate and thoughtful, and will bring dignity to wherever she goes." Republicans say there is no chance Bush will yank the Miers nomination of his own accord. But some influential Republicans said there is a small chance she will survey the flak ahead and decide to withdraw on her own.