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shieldandsword.jpgJust because John McCain picked a socially conservative former Pentecostal as a running mate doesn’t mean he’s out of the woods with the Christian Right just yet. Family Research Council president Tony Perkins says he’s gotta stand by his woman as her faith is scrutinized:

… The next few days, next couple of weeks will be very critical because as you pointed out, her faith has become an issue. It’s being attacked, being used as a weapon against her. People are watching. It will be very important how the McCain campaign handles this. If they become defensive and run from it and try to hide the fact that there is this element of faith, then I think it’s going to turn off social conservatives, evangelicals, orthodox Christians. If they say, “Hey, why should someone have to check their faith at the door and move towards the base,” I think it’s going to energize, you know, the socially conservative voters more. It’s very important how they deal with this in the next few days.

….what people are looking for from the McCain campaign is: He’s made a great selection. He has their attention. He’s built hope and enthusiasm. Are they going to move away from this faith element? Are they going to move away from, you know, the base trying to keep her from being too aligned with him or going to run to their strength?

Will the McCain campaign cry foul? Or leave Palin to fight for herself? And do rank and file social conservatives really care? Isn’t the fact that he picked her in the first place and is campaigning proudly by her side enough for them? Could this be a pet issue for Christian Right leaders?

Could be. On the other hand, should the McCain campaign successfully play the Christian persecution card, making common cause with all those small town Americans clinging to guns and God, it could reinforce their Democrats-as-elite-secular-liberals branding.

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