caldwell.jpgBeliefnet has posted God-o-Meter’s interview this week with Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, spiritual advisor to George W. Bush–Caldwell delivered the benediction at both his inaugurals and introduced him at the 2000 Republican National Convention–and endorser of Barack Obama.
What stood out to God-o-Meter, besides Caldwell’s defense of Rev. Wright and the list of similarities he’s noticed between Bush and Obama, is how plugged in Caldwell has been to the Obama campaign for a year now, a testament the scope and depth of Obama’s religious outreach effort. Here’s one of GOM’s exchanges with Caldwell (some of which was edited out of the posted version for space):

How do you know about Obama’s family life?
For the last 12 months, I’ve been talking to people who are part of the campaign very, very regularly. And I listen very intently to what they say. And the few times I have been around the Senator, I’ve noticed very carefully what he does…
Let me give you a little tidbit. When he was in Houston, we had a history-making number of folks show up here for the rally… As he was leaving the event I said, “Is there anything we can pray for for you?” And he said, “Pray for my wife and my children….” You know, he doesn’t ask for–he doesn’t ask that you pray for his strength or pray for his stamina so he can endure these 16-hour days. He’s not focused on himself. He says, “Pray for my wife and my children.”
When you say you’ve been in regular contact with the Obama campaign over these last 12 months, can you be more specific?
Well, we have prayer calls on a regular basis. There’s another African American Leaders Council that I’m on. I participate in that periodically. And I’m also in pretty current, constant conversation and dialogue with his religious affairs group.
You mean Joshua DuBois, Obama’s religious outreach director?
Exactly, exactly.

The Obama campaign’s been reaching out to Caldwell for over a year? Given that he’s a FOB (friend of Bush) and belongs to Hillary Clinton’s denomination (he leads the nation’s largest Methodist denomination), one could easily see Caldwell being a lower priority target for the Obama team. The fact he doesn’t suggests the kind of long term, comprehensive religious outreach campaign that used to win elections for Republicans.
One of the keys to such an operation is those prayer calls Caldwell mentioned. They make religious leaders like Caldwell feel a lot more invested in the campaign than if they’d just been courted on a political level.


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