Focus on the Family Chairman James C. Dobson reversed himself last month and publicly endorsed Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on the air.
Dobson had previously said he would never support McCain, but he told his listeners he was changing his mind due to a number of factors – chiefly his dislike for Democratic candidate Barack Obama.
During the Oct. 6 broadcast, Dobson listed four reasons why listeners should vote for McCain – McCain opposes abortion, the GOP 2008 platform is extremely conservative, McCain selected evangelical Christian Sarah Plain as his running mate and Obama is too liberal. Dobson harshly criticized Obama for his views and attacked his running mate, Joe Biden. His arguments were mostly a rehash of various GOP talking points against the Obama-Biden ticket.
Dobson’s views were later disseminated to his followers in a letter sent by Focus on the Family Action, the group’s overtly political arm. As a 501(c)(4) organization, FOF Action may legally endorse candidates. (FOF Action also paid for the Oct. 6 radio broadcast.)
According to Dobson, “those who embrace a biblical worldview” must vote for McCain.
Curiously, Dobson insisted that his comments weren’t really an endorsement of McCain.
“While I will not endorse either candidate this year…I can say I’m now supportive of Sen. John McCain in his bid for the presidency,” he said.
The Dobson blessing showed that McCain’s work in wooing the Religious Right has paid off. Many Religious Right leaders were skeptical of McCain last year during the primary season. McCain spoke at the Family Research Council’s “Values Voter Summit” in 2007 and was received politely but with little enthusiasm. In a straw poll taken during the event, McCain came in last place.
Once he secured the nomination, McCain worked hard to win over Religious Right leaders. His decision to put Palin on the ticket was a major boost. Although neither McCain nor Palin attended this year’s “Values Voter Summit,” speakers lauded the ticket, and Palin was held up as a hero.
Other Religious Right groups worked hard to push McCain in the final days of the campaign. “Christian nation” propagandist David Barton’s WallBuilders released a “voter guide” that favored McCain. Despite its clear bias, the guide contained a line asserting that it was suitable for distribution in churches.
In Virginia, Jerry Falwell Jr. announced a drive to register the more than 10,000 students at Liberty University as Virginia voters and vowed to transport them to the polls.
“Wouldn’t it be something if Liberty’s votes were enough to change which presidential candidate won Virginia and maybe even the presidency itself,” said Falwell in a statement.