McCain, Obama to Meet Together With Evangelicals

Monday, 21 Jul 2008 12:26 PM

By Jim Meyers

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Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain will make their first joint appearance of the presidential campaign at a California megachurch next month.

The Rev. Rick Warren has persuaded the two rivals to attend a forum at his Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., on August 16.

Warren, author of the best-selling book “The Purpose-Driven Life,” said he called each candidate personally to invite him to the forum, which “will focus on how they make decisions and on some of Mr. Warren’s main areas of focus, like AIDS, poverty and the environment,” The New York Times reported.

The two men will appear together for a moment at the event, but Warren will interview them separately at his megachurch.

“We’re honored that the candidates chose The Saddleback Civil Forum on Leadership and Compassion for their first joint appearance, an unprecedented opportunity for America to hear both men back-to-back on the same platform,” Warren said in a statement.

His church claims 22,000 members.

Rev. Warren is the cleric who may have indirectly sparked Obama’s decision to run for president, according to Marc Ambinder’s blog on The Atlantic.com.

“Many Obama friends and advisers believe that the realization he actually could be president first hit Obama on December 1, 2006, which happened to be World AIDS Day,” Ambinder wrote in December.

“Obama appeared at the megachurch in Orange County, California, run by Rick Warren…

“Before an audience of socially conservative evangelical Christians,” Obama “called for ‘realism’ and advocated the use of condoms to control the spread of AIDS. As the next day’s Orange County Register described it, Obama received a ‘hearty standing ovation.’ Could any other Democrat, Obama wondered, talk to evangelicals about condoms in Africa?”

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