Arizona Sen. John McCain rolled the political dice in pursuit of the Republican presidential nomination, and came up snake eyes in Virgina Tuesday. His strong criticism of religious right leaders Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell was a risky step, and undoubtedly helped contribute to the whopping he received from Virginia's conservative religious voters, who went for Texas Gov. George Bush 81 to 14 percent.

But don't be too quick to judge the McCain broadside a risk not worth taking. Virginia--with its large religious right voter block--was a long shot for McCain anyway. Next week's Super Tuesday primaries could well determine the GOP presidential candidate, and the McCain strategy that appears a failure this week could come up sevens next week among the many moderate and liberal voters in the larger--and delegate rich--states of New York, Ohio, and California.

When combined with appeals to Catholic voters, McCain's strategy may allow him to broaden his appeal among anti-religious right Republicans, building upon his base of independents and Democrats, who once again in Virginia proved to be his real base of support.

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