Wooing conservative evangelical voters at a private meeting, Republican presidential candidate John McCain promised to speak out against gay marriage and seriously consider picking an anti-abortion running mate.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Senator McCain had a private confab in Ohio with several influential social conservatives who have criticized him for failing to toe the conservative line embraced by evangelical Christians. The newspaper reported that McCain scored some points with his audience.
Some of those attending the meeting confided to the Times that McCain would take seriously their requests that he choose an anti-abortion running mate and promised that he would talk more openly about his opposition to gay marriage, a pledge the Times wrote he carried out later when he endorsed a ballot measure in California to ban gay marriage.
"It was obvious there were a lot of changed hearts in the room," said Phil Burress, who led Ohio's anti-gay-marriage ballot measure in 2004. "We realized that he's with us on the majority of the issues we care about."
Meeting privately with evangelicals and promising to heed their concerns won't cut it with the evangelicals attendees, participants told the Times, adding that McCain needs to embrace their positions publicly, not just privately.
"We told him that if he didn't come out and share his pro-family stances on these issues, then he can kiss Ohio goodbye," Burress said. "We can't deliver his message for him."
The Arizona senator is showing his determination to win evangelical support by scheduling meetings with top Christian leaders. He is due to fly to Asheville, N.C., Sunday to meet privately with the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, who met with Obama earlier. McCain told the Ohio group that he hopes to meet with Focus on the Family's Dr. James C. Dobson, who has said he would not vote for McCain.
"The senator spoke fondly of him, but believes there's probably room for some bridge-building," said Mike Gonidakis, head of Ohio Right to Life.
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