Faith & the Presidential Candidates
Last night (03 June 2007), CNN’s Soledad O’Brien interviewed three (3) Democratic Presidential candidates on the role of faith. The three were Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), and former Sen. John Edwards(D-NC). The live interviews had been sponsored by Sojourners’ Pentecost 2007: Taking the Vision to the Streets event. For reasons unknown, these were the only candidates invited. Rep. Dennis Kunich (D-OH) protested this successfully with CNN’s President. So, at 8 p.m. Paula Zahn interviewed Kucinich, Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), and Sen. Joe Biden(D-DE). Why did Jim Wallis of Sojourners only arrange for the first 3 candidates to be interviewed as part of his event? Was it a “top tier” vs. “rest of the pack” division? Or, worse yet, did he arrange to interview the Protestants (Edwards and Clinton are United Methodists and Obama is United Church of Christ) and leave out the Catholics (Dodd, Richardson, Biden, and Kucinich are all Roman Catholic)? And why didn’t Sojourners, which is supposed to be non-partisan in its work for peace and justice, invite any Republican candidates? (Or were they invited and all turned Wallis down? Perhaps preferring a different kind of event for wearing their faith on their sleaves?)
UPDATE: See comments section. Pat McCullough gives partial explanations from Sojourners. They clear up some of these questions, but the choice of “front runners” this early remains troubling.
Former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-AK) is also a longshot presidential candidate. A Unitarian who hasn’t been in the Senate since 1981(!), Gravel is the only person who refused to be part of any focus on faith, believing this to be a private matter–and, from a Constitutional perspective, he is right.
As for the Democratic debates in NH this past weekend, I am waiting for the GOP debates tonight before giving any in-depth analysis of either, except to say that it is clear that WE THE PEOPLE are keeping Iraq on the front burner–as it should have been in ’04. Iraq is such a mess that I am sure that all the candidates from both parties would love to talk about ANYTHING else–but with all polls showing a majority of the public wants a complete withdrawal by the end of ’07 (and some much faster), they cannot run from the issue–and that’s a good thing.
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