It's not the name you typically hear on the lips of Christian Right heavies leaning on John McCain to pick a rock-ribbed social conservative as a running mate: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. But that's Southern Baptist Convention public policy chief–and Beliefnet blogger–Richard Land cited in his recent CBS News interview as his top veep pick:
CBSNews.com: Who's on the list of people mentioned for VP that you think would most excite Southern Baptists and other members of the conservative faith community?
Richard Land: Probably Governor Palin of Alaska, because she's a person of strong faith. She just had her fifth child, a Downs Syndrome child. And there's a wonderful quote that she gave about her baby, and the fact that she would never, ever consider having an abortion just because her child had Downs Syndrome. She's strongly pro-life.
She's a virtual lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. She would ring so many bells. And I just think it would help with independents because she's a woman. She's a reform Governor. I think that, from what I hear, that would be the choice that would probably ring the most bells, along with Mike Huckabee, of course, who's a Southern Baptist.
On Mitt Romney, meanwhile, Land is personally enthusiastic but says a good chunk of evangelicals would oppose him on religious grounds:
CBSNews.com: And what about Mitt Romney?
Richard Land: I think Mitt Romney would be an excellent choice. There are people in the evangelical community who would have a problem with his Mormonism. I am not one of them. I mean, I'm very clear that I do not believe Mormonism is a Christian faith. But that does not disqualify someone from being President or Vice President. And my guess would be that, probably, about 15 to 20 percent of the evangelical community would have a problem with his Mormonism.
So Palin, eh? If Land's saying it, her name must be making the rounds in evangelical circles. And God-o-Meter thinks Land's got a strong point about her ability to deliver independent women voters. How many other vice presidential picks could excite both cultural conservatives and swing voters?
This article is cross-posted from Beliefnet's God-o-Meter.