John McCain today announced a new coalition of Catholic supporters headed by some big names, including Kansas Senator/former presidential candidate Sam Brownback and former Kansas Governor Frank Keating. From today’s press release:

….Former Governor Frank Keating (R-OK), also National Co-Chair of Catholics for McCain said, “John McCain can uniquely appeal to Catholics with his strong, 24-year pro-life record, his stand for traditional values and school choice, his proven leadership in defending America, and his demonstrated ability to appeal to independent-minded voters. These are exactly the type of qualities that Catholic voters will be looking for in 2008.”In a joint statement, Governor Keating and Senator Brownback added: “In this election, with so much at stake, we need a leader who will help transform history to extend and uphold the rights and dignity of each and every child of God. John McCain is that leader.”

God-o-Meter is surprised to see McCain is making such a serious last-minute play for conservative Catholic support, but it knows it shouldn’t be. Though he denounced the Religious Right as “agents of intolerance” in his 2000 presidential bid, McCain told Beliefnet this year that the U.S. is a Christian nation, released a Christmas ad (above) with more explicit cross imagery than Mike Huckabee’s, and claims a stronger pro-life record than any top-tier Republican candidate besides Huckabee. If McCain manages to clinch the nomination, God-o-Meter knows it will be because of, not in spite of, strong support from traditionalist Catholics and other religious conservatives.8

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