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[Yurica Report Editor's Note: We have added an explanatory title and added underlined emphasis in the text from the original.]
New York Times
September 3, 2008
Who Really Told McCain to Select Sarah Palin or Else?
McCains Effort to Woo Conservatives Is Paying Off
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
ST. PAUL Moments after Senator John McCain announced his running mate Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, an outspoken abortion opponent his campaign sprang into action to fan flames of enthusiasm among his partys demoralized conservative supporters.
At a lunch Friday in Minneapolis, two of his top advisers Charlie Black, a veteran political operative, and Dan Coats, a former senator from Indiana were extolling Ms. Palins virtues to about 150 influential evangelicals as evidence of Mr. McCains ideological commitments.
That night, at a larger gathering of Christian conservatives, the campaign sent Frank Donatelli, vice chairman of the Republican National Committee, to reinforce the message: Mr. McCain would be a pro-life president, which could make a crucial difference with two Supreme Court justices close to retirement. (Mr. McCain has said that he would appoint conservative jurists and run a pro-life administration but that abortion would not be a litmus test for judicial nominees.)
The crowd erupted into a standing ovation before Mr. Donatelli started talking and another when he finished. Several participants described the meetings, both of which were associated with the Christian conservative Council for National Policy, on condition of anonymity because the group bars its members from public discussion of its activities.
The McCain campaign has spent months trying to shore up support among religious conservatives, who have long viewed him as a nemesis.
Mr. McCain has met with small groups of Christian conservatives in pivotal states like Michigan and Ohio even persuading one Ohio advocate to send a mass e-mail message announcing his switch from no way to I cant wait to support Mr. McCain.
He used a recent appearance with the Rev. Rick Warren at Saddleback Church in California to embrace opposition to abortion more explicitly than President Bush ever did. Asked when a fetus gains human rights, Mr. McCain responded, At the moment of conception.
And he has abandoned previous calls to moderate the Republican platforms support for a ban on abortion without exception. Instead, he allowed conservative organizers like Phyllis Schlafly to shape what many advocates say is the most conservative platform in the partys history. At Ms. Schlaflys behest, for example, the party approved an immigration plank calling for new laws to speed widespread deportations and other punitive measures at odds with Mr. McCains stance on one of his signature issues.
To make up for a history of conflict with the Christian conservative wing of his party, Mr. McCain has in some ways gone further than Mr. Bush to reassure the right of his intentions, even at the risk of spooking more moderate voters.
I am now more confident about a John McCain presidency than I am about a George Bush presidency, said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. The campaign has courted conservatives aggressively, and it has turned around remarkably in just the last few weeks.
For skeptical Christian conservatives, Mr. Perkins said, the selection of Ms. Palin was evidence that when it came to the Supreme Court, Mr. McCain would deliver on the principles he laid out at Saddleback Church.
The mood of the partys conservative base may play a pivotal role for Mr. McCain in the fall election, in part because his campaign lags far behind his Democratic opponent, Senator Barack Obama, in assembling paid staff and building get-out-the-vote operations in swing states like Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Republican officials in those states say. To make up the difference, Mr. McCain is banking on his personal appeal, dusting off a four-year-old Republican Party operation built around Mr. Bushs very different candidacy and turning to conservative grass-roots groups.
Mr. McCain has been sparring with leaders of the Christian conservative movement since some attacked the 1989 nomination of his friend John G. Tower as defense secretary. Many objected that his campaign finance reforms would hurt their groups. And their opposition hardened when he campaigned in 2000 as the moderate alternative to Mr. Bush including urging the party to soften its platforms total opposition to abortion.
His early efforts to woo Christian conservatives this year stumbled as well. When he addressed a gathering of the Council for National Policy in New Orleans this year, he made little impression, several participants said. Asked about his own faith, he appeared awkward, repeating stories he often tells about displays of faith he saw as a prisoner in Vietnam stories, one person present noted, that involved only the beliefs of others.
Then, on June 2, the McCain campaign sent a pair of organizers to Ohio to meet with about 40 state-level Christian conservative leaders, hoping to enlist them in the kind of voter turnout efforts they had engaged in for Mr. Bush four years before. But the response was notably cool, several participants said.
Phil Burress, head of the Ohio group Citizens for Community Values and a driving force in church-based get-out-the-vote efforts four years ago, had already said publicly that he would do nothing to help the McCain campaign, and he made clear that he left the meeting unconvinced, people present said.
McCain aides took notice. Two weeks later, Mr. McCain sat down for an hour with six Christian conservative organizers in Ohio, including Mr. Burress, who grilled him on his views.
For me this election is primarily about the next Supreme Court appointments, Mr. Burress later wrote in an e-mail message explaining that Mr. McCain had won him over. John McCain, unlike most politicians, will not be bullied, threatened, paid off or pressured into changing his position.
Colin Hanna, a prominent conservative organizer in Pennsylvania and Ohio said, The candidate and his brain trust have evidently concluded what we have always held as a given: that he cannot succeed without the enthusiastic support of the conservative base.
In July, when James C. Dobson, the influential founder of Focus on the Family, said on his radio broadcast that he, too, might drop his staunch opposition to a McCain presidency, campaign operatives quickly called to express their thanks and ask Dr. Dobson to meet alone with the candidate, a spokesman for Dr. Dobson said.
That conversation has not yet taken place, but on Friday, Dr. Dobson said the Palin selection had persuaded him to endorse Mr. McCain. Dr. Dobson said in a statement that the nomination gives us confidence he will keep his pledges to voters regarding the kinds of justices he would nominate to the Supreme Court.
In Minneapolis, it was as if the whole Republican convention had started drinking Red Bull," said Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, who added that when the McCain campaign had sought his input weeks before he had suggested picking Ms. Palin.
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Strategies, Communication and Propanda Techniques
Directory on the Rise of Christian Dominionism
Rick Warren's Trap:
How to Trick Candidates Into Giving Themselves
a Religious Test
by Katherine Yurica
On August 16, 2008, Rick Warren, the affable pastor
of the 83,000 member Saddleback Church in Southern
California made history by setting up a sequential debate
between Barack Obama and John McCain at his church.
In spite of the natural tendency to rank the competing
candidates performances, it is Rick Warrens character
traits that deserve closer scrutiny here, particularly the words
he chose to say to the press, prior to the Saddleback forum.
The Sarah Palin Strategy:
Upon learning the news, Matthew Staver, Chairman
of Liberty Alliance Action, Chairman of Liberty Counsel
and Dean of Liberty University School of Law said of
the choice, "Absolutely brilliant. . . ."The excitement
was palpable among conservative leaders when they
heard that Gov. Palin was Sen. McCain's choice for
Vice President. There is a high level of optimism among
conservative leaders that the McCain-Palin combination
is a ticket that will connect with values voters."
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