U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole’s challenger Kay Hagan has create a new ad called “Belief” in response to Dole’s “Godless” spot, which attacked Hagan for attending a fundraiser connected to someone who is connected to an atheist group.This is a very post-2004 way for a Democrat to respond to a faith-based attack: quickly responding to the attack head-on and testifying unabashedly about one’s faith commitment. Which is to say, it’s a very “Obama” way to respond to a faith-based attack, as opposed to the “Kerry” way of responding: wringing one’s hands and marrying each public pronouncement about one’s faith to a reaffirmation of support for the complete separation of church and state.
The “Godless” ad that U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole is running against her Democratic challenger in North Carolina is a stark reminder that faith-based attacks have been kept to a relative minimum in the presidential race. It’s also a reminder, to GOM at least, that the McCain campaign has thus far refrained from running ads against Obama based on Jeremiah Wright, his longtime pastor. That kind of attack would be the opposite of Dole’s in North Carolina; rather than paint Obama as “Godless,” it would skewer him for cozying up to a man of the cloth.To God-o-Meter, there’s a pattern here: faith-based attacks tend to come from Republicans who are religious and who’ve incorporated their faith into their political personas, e.g. Dole and Palin. And McCain, a Republican who’s famously uncomfortable incorporating faith into his political persona is refraining from such attacks.So if Palin, Mike Huckabee, or another social conservative gets the nod in 2012, due to a post-McCain religious right uprising, we could be looking at more faith-based attacks at the presidential level. By then, though, Rev. Wright would be old news
David Brody has the scoop on Christian lit the McCain camp is distributing to churches across the country. The document is framed as a voting guide to the hot button social issues: abortion, gay marriage, judges, sex education, school choice. That’s all well and good. This is the kind of thing McCain needed to start doing a year ago to mobilize the GOP’s faith-based base.
But what surprises GOM is that the McCain campaign, in background interviews, argues that the evangelical movement is much more broad-minded than it used to be, pointing out that McCain’s leadership on issues like global warming is likely to resonate with this crowd. In its limited evangelical outreach, however, McCain has ignored those centrist positions to bang the drum on the kind of culture war issues that McCain has long been uncomfortable discussing–which made him so unpopular with the Christian Right for so long.