John McCain’s choice of a running mate is the most significant decision he’ll make in the campaign, says evangelical leader Richard Land.
“I think that the vice presidential choice that John McCain makes is probably the most important choice he's going to make in this entire campaign — because he has no room for error, no margin for doubt,” Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said in an interview with CBS News.
“If he picks a pro-choice running mate, it will confirm the unease and the mistrust that some evangelicals — and don't forget this, social conservative Catholics — feel about McCain.
“If he picks a pro-life running mate, it will help to ease their concerns and confirm to them that, while he may not have been their first choice, he may not have been their second choice, that it's better to vote for a third class fireman than it is to allow a first class arsonist to become president.”
Asked who on the list of people mentioned for vice president would most excite Southern Baptists and other members of the conservative faith community, Land responded:
“Probably Governor [Sarah] Palin of Alaska, because she's a person of strong faith. She just had her fifth child, a Downs Syndrome child. And there's a wonderful quote that she gave about her baby, and the fact that she would never, ever consider having an abortion just because her child had Downs Syndrome. She's strongly pro-life.
“She's a virtual lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. She would ring so many bells. And I just think it would help with independents because she's a woman. She's a reform Governor. I think that, from what I hear, that would be the choice that would probably ring the most bells, along with Mike Huckabee, of course, who's a Southern Baptist.”
Land added: “I think Mitt Romney would be an excellent choice. There are people in the evangelical community who would have a problem with his Mormonism. I am not one of them.
“I mean, I'm very clear that I do not believe Mormonism is a Christian faith. But that does not disqualify someone from being president or vice president.”
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