Beyond the back-and-forth in recent days between Barack Obama and John McCain on their differing approaches to energy policy, the Illinois senator got a couple of pluses on the faith-front. revealed that Stephen Mansfield, a conservative Republican and evangelical Protestant, has written “The Faith of Barack Obama,” due in bookstores in August from Thomas Nelson, a major religious publisher. If title sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because Mansfield is the author of “The Faith of George W. Bush,” a 2004 bestseller. Yet, notes Politico, which received an “exclusive” advance copy, the Obama book tells the story of the candidate’s religious life in a manner from “gently critical to gushing” and suggests he could prove attractive to younger evangelicals.

“For Obama, faith is not simply political garb, something a focus group told him ought to try,” Politico quotes the book as declaring. “Instead, religion to him is transforming, lifelong and real.”

For the record, Politico also writes today that the “first Obama attack book” is due out this summer, too. How much it will have to do with the candidate’s religion is unclear, but it would seem logical that Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, will figure in its pages.

A week after his campaign put up a website to fight “smears” against his candidacy, Obama received a potentially valuable boost Friday from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in a speech to a largely Jewish crowd in South Florida. Bloomberg, a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-political independent, whose plain-spoken, managerial style has sat well with voters in his city, told the audience that those viral e-mails describing Obama as a closet Muslim are lies. Not only that, he asked his audience at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, to go out and fight the rumor. As The New York Times reported, Bloomberg called the rumor “wedge politics at its worst, and we have to reject it–loudly, clearly and unequivocally.”

No, Bloomberg’s statement did not constitute an endorsement. As the Times reported, the Mayor had nice things to say about McCain. And–just in case–a federation official, speaking beforehand, said the meeting was no place for anyone to make a political endorsement.




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