Yes, he upset the Christian Right by throwing John Hagee and Rod Parsley overboard. And by staying quiet on the California Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage. And by entertaining the possibility of Charlie Crist as his running mate. And that’s just in the last month.
But Ed Stoddard at Reuters reminds us that John McCain has a possible trump card in appealing to religious conservatives: a decades long pro-life voting record:
The Arizona senator’s position on the issue distinguished him in the early stages of the Republican contest from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose support for abortion rights dismayed conservative Christians and led to threats to form a third party if he had secured the nomination….
[N]othing unites evangelicals like their opposition to abortion, which many compare to the anti-slavery movements of the past — a comparison that raises the moral stakes and suggests they will not back down on it.
Polls suggest the issue is becoming even more entrenched in conservative Christian culture.
An analysis of surveys from 2001 to 2007 by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that young white evangelicals between the ages of 18 and 29 were even more conservative on the issue than their elders.
It found 70 percent said they were in favor of making it more difficult for a woman to get an abortion compared with 55 percent of older white evangelicals and 39 percent of young Americans overall.
McCain’s stance also appeals to centrist evangelicals, who have been attracted to him by his opposition to abortion combined with his call for action on climate change and his resolute condemnation of the use of torture by U.S. forces.
So why hasn’t John McCain really played that card yet, amid all the conservative Christian grumbling of recent weeks?