mccain19.jpgreagan.jpgLike John McCain today, Ronald Reagan had his work cut out in winning over the Christian Right during his 1980 campaign, when a new organization called Moral Majority was mobilizing evangelicals and other conservative Christians in a way not seen since fallout from the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial scared many of those voters away from public life.
Reagan, after all, had been a Hollywood export with a scant church attendance record, a second wife, and a reputation for having signed a liberal (for its time) abortion law as governor of California. So Reagan studied up on how to connect with evangelicals and crafted a line that made the movement love him when he uttered at before a crowd of 15,000 pastors in Dallas: “I know you can’t endorse me, but I want you to know that I endorse you.”
Fast forward to 2008. Evangelicals are a more powerful force in the GOP than they were during Reagan’s 1980 campaign. Rather than endorsing the Christian Right, McCain is going out of his way to make clear that endorsements from the movement’s leaders are a one-way proposition: he doesn’t endorse them back. And yesterday, McCain flat out told John Hagee and Rod Parsley that he didn’t want their endorsements. That’s one huge turnaround from Reagan’s day.


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