A schism has been slowly building over the last few years between the Republican party and its base.  It began, or at least found its footing in the attempted appointment of Harriet Myers to the Supreme Court.  It found steam in the Dubai Ports Deal.  The schism reared its head before the 2006 elections, prompting Republicans to pass a last minute border fence bill.  A fence, ironically, which still hasn’t been erected.

This schism may grow to full fledged revolt if George W. Bush and his accomplices in the US Congress succeed in passing the immigration reform currently being debated.  Is there a candidate who can restore the faith of the Republican base? In a story documenting the courtship of GOP candidates and the Southern Baptist Convention a name emerges:

The name generating perhaps the most excitement among Southern Baptists is someone who hasn’t even entered the race yet: Fred Thompson of Tennessee, the actor and former senator.

The separation that exists between party elites and its loyal base is being played out in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Some Southern Baptists would rather stay out of politics altogether. A small but vocal number of pastors believe the denomination is too cozy with Republicans and too political in general. By flirting with the line separating good citizenship and a grab for power, they say, a denomination already experiencing flat membership risks alienating more people.

But is Fred Thompson the answer?

“Another Southern Baptist called Fred Thompson the Ronald Reagan of the South, and I think he has some of that appeal,” said SBC executive committee president Morris Chapman, adding he hasn’t settled on a candidate yet. “He is a magnetic personality. He seems to articulate his opinions clearly. He seems to be unflappable.”

The nomination may land with one of the other contenders.  The GOP may choose to follow the leadership of Rudy Giuliani or the promises of Mitt Romney. Whoever the nominee, party reunification will be part of the agenda.

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