Christian Coalition Head to Endorse George W. Bush

Church & State, March 2000 | Go to article overview

Christian Coalition Head to Endorse George W. Bush


Christian Coalition President Pat Robertson has announced plans to throw his public support to Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush.

Speaking on the CBS program "Face the Nation" Feb. 13, Robertson was asked if he intends to endorse Bush. "I plan to do that;" he replied. "That's right." The Virginia Beach, Va., religious broadcaster said, "He's going to make a superb president. I'm very comfortable with his stands on the various issues."

Robertson, however, bitterly criticized Bush opponent John McCain, charging that the Arizona senator is unfit to be president and that his campaign reform agenda is "specious." The TV preacher said McCain's reform bill in Congress would interfere with the Coalition's activities.

In a television interview that same day on CNN's "Late Edition," Robertson threatened to sit out the election if McCain becomes the GOP nominee.

Implicitly conceding that the voter guides favor some candidates over others, Robertson said, "I do believe that if he became the nominee of the Republican Party, John McCain, that the Christian Coalition, which is a voluntary organization, would not put out 75 million voter guides, would not urge its membership to vote for anybody in the general election. And I think there'll be a defection of the Christian conservatives in major waves. I'm talking about a large portion of the Republican base would walk away. And I say that with--advisedly. You know, we're not under the obligation to put out any literature for anybody."

The Christian Coalition holds a 501(c)(4) tax exemption that allows it to endorse candidates as long as partisan politics is not its primary activity. However, Robertson's words are a reminder to churches--which operate under a stricter 501(c)(3) exemption--that the Coalition's voter guides are partisan and therefore illegal for houses of worship to distribute.

The Robertson endorsement of Bush, unveiled a week before the important South Carolina primary, comes as no surprise. Former Christian Coalition Executive Director Ralph Reed has been working as a Bush campaign adviser and has recruited many Religious Right leaders to the Texas governor's banner.

In the meantime, Robertson has used his nationally televised "700 Club" program to steer viewers toward Bush.

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