When John McCain threw pastors John Hagee and Rod Parsley overboard last week, God-o-Meter was struck that both pastors issued statements absent of any ill will toward the presidential candidate. Pretty gracious, thought GOM–would the broader Christian Right be so understanding? Would conservative Christian leaders actually blame the mainstream media for unfairly caricaturizing Hagee and Parsley, taking the heat off McCain?
One week later, GOM has it’s answer: the Christian Right is miffed at McCain (again). The most recent evidence comes from today’s Washington Post:
[McCain’s] abrupt turnabout brought criticism not only from secular viewers, who questioned why he had aligned himself with controversial religious voices, but also from evangelicals, who said he may have alienated a powerful bloc of potential Republican voters.
“He wants us to support him, but as soon as his back was against the wall, he overreacted. He is now less likely to get the evangelical vote and will have a difficult time getting strong endorsements from other ministers,” said Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr., founder and chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition, an evangelical group that advises ministers on political and policy issues.
“For McCain to have to repudiate these people is much worse than ever having their endorsement in the first place,” said Doug Wead, a political consultant who ranked 1,000 evangelical pastors for former president George H.W. Bush to court for endorsements. “If evangelical Christians feel this is an attack on them, even if they don’t agree with Parsley and Hagee or follow them, it could galvanize them against McCain.”
Jackson and Wead are conservative Christian A-listers. Both, in different ways, were very important to George W. Bush’s evangelical outreach over the last eight years. Did the McCain campaign do any outreach to them–or any other evangelical opinion shapers–to mitigate damage as it was throwing Hagee and Parsley overboard? Or did it think the Christian Right wouldn’t notice?