September 5, 2008
Q&A with Sen. Brownback
Sen. Sam Brownback, who originally ran for president against John McCain, believes that the biggest challenge McCain faces among evangelicals is getting them out of their houses on November 4.
Here's a portion of the interview earlier this week:
What do you think of the Palin pick?
It’s excellent. I think it was a game change. You know, the American public wanted to vote for history, and that was some of the appeal of Barack Obama to show yes, we can do something like this. Well, now you can vote for history by voting for the Republican ticket, by placing the first female vice president of the U.S.
What challenges do John McCain and Sarah Palin face, particularly among evangelicals?
You know, I don’t think they face much challenge among evangelicals now, other than getting them out to vote and pushing their neighbors to get out to vote. It’s probably more of an organizational challenge at this point. And that can take some time but it’s doable.
Do you think people will be as excited about McCain on November 4 as they were for Bush in 2004?
That’d be hard to do. You know, because Bush was one of them, really spoke the language and knew it in his heart, and John loves the country but is a different candidate. I think he’s going to get their votes and now with the pick of Palin who may become one of the future leaders of the overall movement, I think he’s really endeared himself to the faith base of the party even if they don’t see it in him as much as they’d like to.
Barack Obama speaks more openly about his faith and has an intense religious outreach. Do you think that will work?
I don’t think so, because he’s just off on the core subjects. That came through so clear at Saddleback, that he’s not there on life, he’s not there on marriage. It came through at the Democratic convention in his big speech – he talks about supporting abortion and same-sex marriage. And I just think those for a lot of people are the portal issue. You’ve got to get the basics right before I can look at you on other issues. And if you can’t get the basics right, how can I trust you on a broader set of issues?
At the Democratic National Convention there was more religious outreach. Why is there less here?
It’s because it’s woven into our program here, it’s in the DNA. It’s the priest or the pastor that kicks off the convention and prays in the name of Jesus. It’s people speaking of their faith or their testimony. It’s more woven into who we are and what the party is.
What objections do evangelicals or Catholics raise when they’re talking to you about whether to vote for McCain or not?
Individuals raise the issue of stem cell research to me – that’s the major one I get. But then when they weigh it against Obama who’s for stem cell research and not even for protecting a child that’s accidentally born in a botched abortion, that one’s so over the top pro-abortion that there’s not even a choice here.
Have you heard any objections to Palin because of her daughter’s pregnancy?
From the media I have. From other people I get a yes and amen, that life happens and things happen that you wish didn’t, but this is how you deal with it. You don’t kill the child. You have the child and you try to make a go of it as a family and you surround the child and the family with love and affection. For most people it’s been yes, that’s how we deal with the things that happen in life that you wish didn’t. So it’s been, by and large from the faith perspective, a yes, this is what you do. And it’s been a good common object discussion with the country about what it means to be pro-life.
There’s been talk of the evangelical agenda broadening, and some think that may be a chance for Obama to get more votes. Do you see that?
Yes, I see it happening, particularly in younger evangelical voters, and I don’t think that’s all a bad thing. But I don’t concede then those voters to Barack Obama. I have to stand upstairs – I don’t concede the social justice agenda to Barack Obama when McCain’s the guy that led the charge for a reform immigration system and opposed his own party to do that, when McCain’s the guy who endured torture and is opposed to torture. I think we fight on this new terrain when McCain’s the guy putting forth proposals to deal with global warming.
Usually people enter politics because of a topic. In this case it may have been the pro-life movement or it may have been when they were driving and got out at the public square that for a lot of people faith came in. But then once you’re in the system you broaden because now you have a thousand issues to deal with. You may have come into politics because of that but now there are a bunch of issues you have to deal with. You can’t just say well I don’t care I only want to deal with my set. If you’re an elected official or otherwise you have to deal with them.