Bush Liaison Helps Religious Right Push For Social Agenda

As President George W. Bush plans a second term that many Religious Right activists hope will emphasize social issues, one man stands poised to play a key role: Tim Goeglein.

Don’t be surprised if the name isn’t familiar. Goeglein has worked at the White House since 2000, but his efforts have mostly remained below the radar. Although well known in the evangelical Christian community, Goeglein is far from a household name.

In a recent profile, The Indianapolis Star noted that Goeglein was tapped by Bush strategist Karl Rove to serve as deputy director of the White House Office of Public Liaison. Goeglein, 40, answers directly to Rove.

Goeglein served as a communications director for Religious Right leader Gary Bauer during Bauer’s short-lived presidential campaign in 2000. Prior to that, he worked as a spokesman for former U.S. Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.)

Given his background, The Star reported, Goeglein expected to win a slot in the White House press office. Instead, Rove tapped him for a much-more important position, telling Goeglein, “I’m going to change your life.”

People close to Goeglein, a member of the conservative Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, say he played a crucial role in mobilizing evangelicals during the election.

“He is the key person that actually produced the evangelical vote in America,” Ted Haggard, head of the National Association of Evangelicals, told The Star. “It was Karl Rove’s initiative, but it was Tim that actually did it. When we call Tim, his office responds. He’s the one evangelical leaders across America have a relationship with.”

The newspaper reported that Goeglein meets daily with Rove and other top White House aides. Although Goeglein is responsible for networking with some non-religious conservative groups as well, he spends most of his time meeting with evangelicals and conservative Catholic groups.

“The president paid a great deal of attention to Christian conservatives both publicly and privately,” said John Green, director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron. “Tim Goeglein had made a real point of speaking to these folks regularly and listening to them. They haven’t always gotten what they wanted, but it wasn’t because they were ignored.”

Goeglein told the newspaper that during Bush’s second term, the president will pursue a “continued emphasis on the culture of life.”