June 5, 2007
Faith Forum for Democrats
Sen. Clinton talks about prayer and her husband's affair.
Last night, CNN devoted one hour to a presidential forum for the three leading Democratic candidates for President--former Sen. John Edwards, Sen. Barack Obama, and Sen. Hillary Clinton. The forum, sponsored by Sojourners, struck a very friendly, informal tone. CNN host Soledad O'Brien at one point talked about keeping a sensitive matter between "just us girls" with Clinton.
This approach may have softened Clinton's defenses, because she did not dodge a question about President Clinton's affair. "I'm not sure I would have gotten through it without my faith," Clinton said. "I take my faith very seriously and very personally. And I come from a tradition that is perhaps a little too suspicious of people who wear their faith on their sleeves, so a lot of the talk about and advertising about faith doesn't come naturally to me. I keep thinking about the Pharisees and all of the Sunday school lessons and readings that I had as a child."
The "sleeves" comment drew applause from the George Washington University audience. I couldn't help but wonder why the crowd would cheer Clinton for this line during a forum when all three candidates talked openly and personally about the great importance of their faith.
Try as he might, Sojourners/Call to Renewal president Jim Wallis struggled to get policy specifics out of Edwards and Obama. The candidates much preferred to talk about how much they care for the poor, rather than what they would do about poverty from the White House. In light of news reports about his extravagant lifestyle, Edwards sounded hollow when he talked about his many great deeds to fight poverty.
Despite some drawbacks, this forum probably could not have come together in 2004. No matter your politics, that's a good sign for evangelicals.