Gary Bauer: voters are picking a president, not a pastor
Gary Bauer defended John McCain when I spoke with him earlier this week, even though there were several more religious outreach events at the Democratic National Convention last week than here in St. Paul. Bauer served as head of Family Research Council before he ran for president in 2000.
There doesn't seem to be as many scheduled events for religious voters here as in Denver. Why is that?
Clearly the Obama campaign is making a play for the religious vote. But I think they will actually end up with less of that vote than Sen. Kerrry and Al Gore got, for this reason: the positions they're taking are so out of step with faith-based voters that I think they're doomed on making any progress here. Christian voters are not hiring a pastor; they're picking a president.
He is so far, so extremely pro-abortion that it's almost hard to comprehend. On marriage he opposes almost every idea on how to safeguard marriage as the union of one man and one woman. But worse than that, he has cited the Sermon on the Mount as the reason he supports the gay rights movement. Nancy Pelosi the weekend before last cited St. Augustine for her pro-abortion position, which is actually deeply offensive to religious voters. If anything, their attempt to get these voters is a concession on their part that it has hurt them in recent years to be on the wrong side of all these cultural issues.
I know that you began supporting McCain in February, but were you pulling for another candidate before that?
I did speak favorably of Fred Thompson, but I think he waited so long to get in the train had left the station. I know this will irritate some conservatives, but I think Sen. McCain is the only person we could have nominated this year that will actually win in November. He does have because of his maverick reputation an appeal to swing voters. And given what's happen to the Republican brand name in the last few years having that ability I think is going to be central to winning the election in November.
What about the platform?
It's very solid. The original draft that we got was already much more pro-life than previous platforms. Now [John McCain] is not with us on all those things, most notably stem cell research, but he's got several briefings on the issue, he's said repeatedly that he's hoping recent breakthroughs will trump this debate about embryonic stem cells. I would say this is probably the most conservative, pro-life platform we've ever had.
What do you think about Sarah Palin?
Grand slam. Home run. There were a lot of people on his list, not all of who would have exactly enthralled conservatives. I understand why he was considering some of those people like Sen. Lieberman (a unity government in a time of war), but I think he ultimately made the right decision.
The story about the governor's daughter is indicative of the fact that every American family is wrestling with these values issues. I think every parent will attest that you do the best you can and at the end of the day your children have free will, and they make mistakes. The important thing is what to do when a mistake it made. In this case they've embraced their daughter and they've embraced life. It shows that the Republican party and conservative Christians are not pointing our finger at everybody else, we are struggling with what everyone else is struggling with, but we are trying to hold our country to a higher standard.
Do you think it will make evangelicals uncomfortable voting for her?
I don't. I was trying to explain to some other reporters that why is there a pro-life movement; it's to help young women in crisis pregnancies. And you know it's not Governor Palin that got pregnant out of wedlock; it's one of her children. So I don't think it will have any negative effect at all, although I already see some signs that the left is going to try to use this as a club.
John McCain doesn't talk much about his faith. Will that matter to voters?
Sen. McCain at Saddleback showed a side of himself that a lot of people haven't seen when he talked about how faith sustained him in the POW camp. When you go back and look at Ronald Reagan, he did not talk that much about his personal faith. I think we need to be careful not to expect from our candidates what we would expect to hear in church.