Beliefnet
God-O-Meter

ridge.jpgThis is not going to make the Christian Right happy. Not one bit.
Just as the movement’s leaders were starting to warm up to John McCain, after years of being nauseated by him, the Arizona senator goes and sticks his thumb in their eye, suggesting that he’s not ruling out a pro-choice running mate, namely former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge. From the AP:

“And also I feel that — and I’m not trying to equivocate here — that Americans want us to work together,” McCain added. “You know, Tom Ridge is one of the great leaders and he happens to be pro-choice. And I don’t think that that would necessarily would rule Tom Ridge out.”

What’s so dangerous about that statement regards to McCain’s relationship with the Christian Right is that it was a statement that McCain made four months ago about likely ruling out Tom Ridge as a running mate because of his pro-choice views that made many top movement activists really warm up to him for the first time in a long time. It came on an exchange with Chris Matthews on an episode of Pennsylvania that was being broadcast live from Pennsylvania:

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about your Republican party. You’ve been a maverick, and a lot of people like you because of that. I want to ask you how much of a maverick you are. Would you put a person on the ticket with you, like the former governor of this state who is very popular, Tom Ridge, even though he may disagree on the issue of Roe v Wade and abortion rights? Would you put somebody on the ticket like that, on that one issue? Would that stop him?
MCCAIN: I don’t know if it would stop him, but it would be difficult. I just want to say that Tom Ridge is one of the great Americans. He served in the Vietnam War. He served in Congress. He served as a great governor of this state. I am proud to call him my friend.
MATTHEWS: Why that one issue? Why is it that one litmus test issue?
MCCAIN: I’m not saying that would be necessarily, but I am saying it’s basically the respect and cherishing of the right of the unborn is one of the fundamental principles of my party. And it’s a–and it’s a deeply held belief of mine. But I just want to say, again, the admiration and respect and affection that I have for Tom Ridge–he and I came to the Congress together many years ago. And I can’t tell you how much I admire him.

Here’s how Family Research Council senior vice president Connie Mackey responded at the time to God-o-Meter, when asked if McCain was stepping up his outreach to Christian conservatives:

He did “reach out” in the one-hour interview with Chris Matthews at Villanova University when he said that choosing a “pro-choice” vp would be difficult because the Republican party is concerned about the welfare of the unborn and the he has a deep commitment to the protection of the unborn himself.

Now it looks like Christian activists like Mackey might have been reading too much into McCain’s April statement. Unless he does some damage control around this, look for conservative evangelical and Catholic activists to start griping about the maverick again, just like in the days of yore, before James Dobson started dangling the possibility of a McCain endorsement.


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