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God-O-Meter

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Following up on a TIME account yesterday, CBN’s David Brody has more deets on Tuesday’s Denver meeting among scores of Christian Right activists and their decision to coalesce behind John McCain despite their considerable doubts about him. Channeling meeting attendee/evangelical activists David Barton–who spearheaded evangelical pastor outreach for the Republican National Committee in 2004–Brody sees this is a major turning point for the Arizona senator:

David Barton, President of the conservative WallBuilders group was there too. I spoke with him about the meeting and he tells me roughly 75 of the 83 were on board for McCain at the end of the meeting.
“I would say it was a very very significant meeting. … I would say that the firepower assembled in that room represents a large portion of the conservative and the Evangelical constituency. I would say that the message was very clear that they will strongly support McCain.”
The meeting started out with an agreement by everyone in the room on the 10 core values they believe are crucial to the pro-family movement. After agreeing on the values, they then agreed that John McCain best represents those values….
So why is there a more positive climate change (excuse the pun) when it comes to McCain now? Two reasons. First off, these pro-family groups believe Barack Obama is a threat to their pro-family values. But secondly, McCain has done a great job in private meetings with some conservative religious leaders of calming the fears they may have about him. Barton again:
“They went into those meetings very hostile I would say and they had some lengthy meetings and really hit McCain hard on some stuff and he answered them point blank in such a way that they came out just completely flipped over in the sense that, ‘Wow, the concerns that we had are not there.'”
So here’s the bottom line: We are seeing a shift now in Evangelical circles because there is a realization that while McCain might not be the “pure candidate,” he’s still the closest thing they have to representing their core values. They don’t want Barack Obama picking Supreme Court judges.

A major question now is whether this conservative activist class of the evangelical movement can spur the troops to action with a very pragmatic message: you may not love John McCain the way you did George W. Bush (or Ronald Reagan) but you have to work for him anyway. It’s also worth remembering that there are still some holdouts among influential evangelical conservatives, including Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, which could deny the Christian Right of the kind of all-out push necessary to get evangelicals to hold their noses and give McCain some shoe leather.
God-o-Meter has talked to an activist who attended the Denver meeting, is checking in with a few more, and will post its own take on these develpments shortly.


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