phone.jpgWhile God-o-Meter was making the case that McCain’s pastor-dumping last week was the clearest indication yet of his abysmal religious outreach operation, the McCain camp gave David Brody a story about ramping up is faith-based efforts:

Two campaign aides for John McCain’s tell The Brody File that outreach to the religious community is well underway with weekly meetings between McCain staffers and pro-family leaders. There are roughly ten people on the call from the Evangelical and social conservative world including prominent McCain backers Gary Bauer and former Senator Dan Coates. The focus of the weekly meeting is to gauge the temperature of the grassroots, keep a dialogue open and make sure they know that the McCain camp is listening to their concerns. One aide says the campaign is in “listening mode”
The campaign also sends out email alerts and correspondence a few times a week to national leaders in individual states. These are people who have professed their support and others who haven’t come around quite yet. The feedback has been helpful to the McCain campaign. While some leaders may have concerns with McCain’s stance on embryonic stem cell research or campaign finance reform, the bigger pushback and concern comes from those leaders who believe McCain has not really championed social conservative issues as much as he should. That seems to be something the McCain camp will have to deal with.
They also are holding “Issues briefings” prior to certain speeches McCain gives on topics important to social conservatives. For example, before McCain’s big speech on judges last month, pro-family groups like the Family Research Council and Eagle Forum were briefed about where McCain stands on the issue. The McCain camp sees all of these efforts as an opportunity to “introduce” John McCain to social conservative leaders again and point out that he is with them on the issues they care deeply about.
In addition to all of this, Charlie Black, a senior advisor to McCain met with a few Evangelical leaders last week.

God-o-Meter will keep its antennae up for signs of McCain’s religious outreach and its efficacy. The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins didn’t appear to offer a vote of confidence in the effort on CNN last week, when he was discussing McCain’s decision to throw pastors Hagee and Parsley overboard:

Campbell Brown: Tony, what does he do? What does McCain do?
Tony Perkins: Well, I’m not quite sure. I mean, this is a very interesting election cycle. You have the Democratic Party, which historically has been a little hostile to religion in the public square, has all the appearances that they have gotten religion, while the Republicans appear to have gotten agnostic and run off with the church organist.
I mean, there are almost completely reversed roles in here. And so, I think, you’re going to have evangelicals paying a lot closer attention ultimately to voting records to discern between the candidates, because John McCain won’t talk about faith, values. But then you have Barack Obama and even Hillary Clinton talking more about faith.
I would say, though, this has been a very troubling week for the John McCain campaign, because I think it would be very difficult to overcome this. They need the support of prominent evangelicals, and they have just poured cold water on that with this week’s events.


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