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Evangelicals Christians exerted enormous influence on McCain’s decision — for better or worse.
John McCain had wanted to appoint Joe Lieberman, his close friend, but religious conservatives protested so vehemently that McCain felt he couldn’t go that way, The New York Times reported. Paul Weyrich, a leading conservative, apparently pushed hard for Palin, according to the National Journal. James Dobson, who once said he might not vote for McCain, now feels she was a God-send: “A lot of people were praying, and I believe Sarah Palin is God’s answer.”
If Palin is the spark that helps carry the ticket to the White House, the influence of religious conservatives will be enormous. Reports of the demise of the old Religious Right will prove to have been highly premature. In fact, religious conservatives will have helped reformed the Republican party, promoted conservative values and energized the pro-life movement.
If, however, she proves a drag on the ticket, the risks to religious conservatives could be significant. If she proves unequipped for high office, it will look like religious conservatives sacrificed all other considerations to abortion. If she proves dishonest or if the compelling story of her Downs Syndrome baby ends up being not what if first appeared* then religious conservatives will be viewed as gullible.
Just as important, the growing group of evangelicals – especially the young – who feel that evangelical leaders had become too political, too hitched to the Republican party, will view Palin as the ultimate example of how easily duped religious conservative leaders are.