Governor Palin Solves John McCain’s Religion Problem

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) speaks after being awarded the 2017 Liberty Medal by former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (unseen) at the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller - RC1DDFB83650

Deal W. Hudson
September 1, 2008

“I’ve gotten more phone calls in the last two days than I received the entire two months I’ve been working for McCain.” J. R. Sanchez, head of McCain’s Catholic outreach in Florida, isn’t the only one experiencing this among religious and social conservatives.

One Catholic activist from San Francisco told me she was offering to organize all the pro-life women in the area for a Palin fundraiser. “This changes everything,” she said, “my phone hasn’t stopped ringing since she was announced.” Neither she nor her friends had much enthusiasm for McCain’s candidacy. They do now.

Sanchez has also heard from Evangelicals in Florida (they didn’t know who else to call) who told him everyone is now energized, from the local pastor to friends and in-laws. Many of them “was going to stay home and not vote.” Up to that point, the only grassroots support Sanchez had found in Florida was among the Vietnamese community, which reveres McCain for his war experience. “Now everyone who helped Bush win in 2004 wants to help, too,” he said.

Another activist, who had been a leader of Bush Catholic outreach in 2004, told me that religious conservative had been expecting one of two things: either a safe ideological choice like Governor Pawlenty (who inspired little enthusiasm) or a left of center selection like Lieberman. “Then out of nowhere McCain taps Gov. Palin… campaign morale shot straight up.”

In early June, I asked whether McCain was losing the Religious Right. He certainly began the campaign on shaky ground with religious conservatives, and they felt ignored. The situation turned bleak when McCain rejected the endorsements of Rev. John Hagee and Rev. Rod Parsley.

Repairs began on June 28 when McCain met with Billy Graham and his son Franklin, at Graham’s home in Montreat, North Carolina. A week later McCain visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City – pictures of McCain in front of the sacred image flashed around the world in a matter of hours.

In the space of seven days, McCain had visited arguably the two most powerful icons in the respective Evangelical and Catholic worlds – Billy Graham and Our Lady of Guadalupe. The message had gone out to conservative Christian voters that John McCain cared about their support.

But the gesture, by itself, was not enough. Religious conservatives wanted to be reassured that McCain’s heart was in his pro-life and pro-marriage positions. The August 16 Saddleback event with Rick Warren provided that assurance. When McCain said, “Life begins at conception,” without hesitation or qualification, religious conservatives began reconsidering their level of commitment to the campaign.

Then came the announcement of a pro-life Evangelical Palin as McCain’s running mate. Two months to the day from McCain’s meeting with Billy Graham, the GOP presidential nominee finally solved his problem with the Religious Right.

What the Obama campaign should be concerned about now is not whether Hillary supporters will flock to Palin, but that the foot soldiers of the Republican Party are back on the field.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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