CBS interviews Wallis and Richard Land on the issues that evangelical Christians care about.
The segment features a new CBS poll which found that the top issues white Evangelicals want to hear candidates discuss are Healthcare (23%) and Iraq (20%); abortion and gay marriage didn’t even crack the top 4 issues. Poverty topped the list (at 33%) when Evangelicals were asked, “Which issue should Evangelical Christians get involved in?”
When the MC announced that Duncan Hunter was next up, somebody a few rows ahead of me spoke a whimsical but loud “yeah,” and people laughed.
Perfunctory applause as he takes the stage. The lunch crowd is still filing back into the ballroom. In case you’re wondering, there was a lovely spread in the media room.
Hunter is the first one to bring up the ACLU. To their credit, the ACLU had a booth in the vendors room. They looked relaxed but determined. Determined to do what, I don’t know.
Hunter just spent 3 1/2 minutes talking about how he saved a cross from being removed from a war memorial.
He’s concerned that the military-industrial manufacturing base is evaporating, sounds very populist and hawkish. He will make China stop cheating on trade and bring high-paying arms-manufacturing jobs back to America.
We ought to be very very scared of China’s military buildup. They are acquiring missiles that could take out American aircraft carriers.
“We are going to leave Iraq in victory.”
Hunter is the first to mention Iran. He is the hawk of the bunch by far. “We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear device. Period.” Everyone’s rattled this saber on tv, but for some reason not here.
People hit their feet for Israel: “They should not give back an inch of their land.” Loud flagwaving, whooping, clapping.
On Mexicans: “there are some folks who come across the border to get jobs…but there are a lot that come here to hurt Americans.”
854 miles of border fence in 6 months. Bank on it.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that God still loves this nation.” Bold.
Slow rising ovation. Music is hard to distinguish.
Ron Paul observations and quotes :
He’s only the second speaker to mention the constitution, and the only one to do it more than a passing manner. If only he didn’t have such an exotic interpretation of it.
This dude hates taxes. You know it when you see him on TV, but you feel it in person.
The crowd still responds to calls for overturn of Roe.
He says that rather than waiting for a judicial ruling, Congress can remove the issue of abortion (and others) from the jurisdiction of the federal courts. And you thought Cheney was radical.
UN, WTO, IMF, NAFTA — we shouldn’t be party to any of them.
“I don’t like border guards being sent to Iraq” got very tepid applause that sounded like confusion. People are getting dizzy.
No more birthright citizenship, free education, health care, food stamps for “illegal aliens’” children. Removing these “incentives” and “subsidies” will end illegal immigration. This gets solid applause. I am queasy and embarrassed.
“It’s not that I’m against war per se, I’m against unnecessary, undeclared war.” More confused applause.
The Soviets defeated themselves because they had a poor economic system — Reagan didn’t do it!
Only gold and silver should be basis of currency. Money should not be created “out of thin air.” Hunger be damned.
“I don’t even think we should have a Department of Education. Period.” Loud applause.
Interfaith Youth Core’s, “A Different Kind of Conversation about Religion” offers several tools for planning alternative actions, including poster templates and suggested film screenings. Students planning events can also register on the site and check out where other activities are happening.
Land and Wallis stand behind transparent lecterns, grip them authoritatively, emphasizing their stout builds. I can’t recap the entire debate in one post, so I’ll just share what caught my interest. [Full disclosure: I used to work for Sojourners, of which Wallis is editor in chief.]
Wallis begins by emphasizing common ground, says “we must make sure our faith trumps our politics.” Affirmation of sacredness of human life draws applause. His call for legislation reducing abortion elicits amens, and there’s brief applause when he says he’s troubled by abortion rates.
Wallis’ approach to poverty – “3 legged stool ” of government, church and private sector. Not a hint of applause. A little clapping for fatherhood initiatives, none for education, health care, wealth building. Living wages – not a peep from the audience. I infer from their response that they believe marriage will magically undo poverty.
Wallis’ line connecting poverty and race, and call for repentance of racial sins, generates light but steady applause. I am genuinely surprised.
Cites CBS poll saying evangelical voters prioritize health care over abortion. Asks if audience agrees.
Were you included in the poll?
[The sample was 1,282 people across the country, so there's no reason to expect anyone in the room would've been surveyed. This is how opinion research works.]
Says “the transcendent moral issue of our time is sanctity of life given from conception to natural death.” Touts need for law: “If we didn’t have law against slavery, we would still have it. If we didn’t have a law against segregation, we would still have it.” Unless we outlaw abortion, “we will still have it.”
[Note: We still have segregation, and it didn't take a law to solve slavery, it took a war, a cluster of constitutional amendments, and decades of transition.]
Land on foreign policy:
“I do not believe America is God’s chosen nation, or god’s chosen people, but I do know that we are most blessed nation in human history.”
“I do not believe America has a special claim on God, but that God has a special claim on us.”
A bit of tension there, no?
Just wow: “The only reason there is freedom anywhere in the world today is because of the military might of the United States of America and the willingness of its people to fight for other people’s freedom.”
Wallis argues for environmental responsibility, warns of climate change. There is a boo in the back of the room. Says we should be hardest to convince, not easiest, and that the war was mistake. Faint gasps whisper through the crowd.
Wallis’ strongest applause came when he said “we cannot pit the unborn against the 30,000 children who die in poverty every day.”
Land closed with a rift about the virtues of supply side economics.
MC touts Thompson’s 86% American Conservative Union rating and 100% pro-life voting record.
Entry music: Johnny Cash! “I’ve been everywhere, man…” Same as the Southwest Airlines commercials.
Man, is he easing into this. Nothing but intros and platitudes for first two minutes. Fred is third speaker to mention Declaration of Independence, first to mention Constitution. He is a fan of federalism, doesn’t mention separation of powers.
“We are steeped in honor and sacrifice for the greater good.” It was self-sacrifice that led him to the Senate in 1994. He said that.
Reminds us of his 100% abortion record. Hearty applause, but butts remain in seats. Fred’s not the kind of guy who makes you jump. He himself has never jumped.
Says he was always pro-life in his head, but he arrived at it in his heart after losing a child and later seeing a sonogram of his new daughter. Emotional, borderline weepy. He pledges to veto anything that provides funds for abortion.
Keeps the streak of “judicial activism” condemnation alive. This is an absolute requirement.
Gets an “amen” to “marriage is between a man and a woman” line. No one else got that. Fred can really deliver, even if he’s not making them jump.
He will “stop judicial activism in its tracks.” Pledges more John Robertses, even if it takes repeated nominations of conservatives. “That’s a fight we can have with the American people, er, in front of the American people, all day long.” Paging Dr. Freud.
“One of the great moral issues of the day is that we’re bankrupting the next generation.”
Touts economic growth and strength created by conservative economic policy. Greeted by the sound of one hand clapping. Very muddled message, but “I will bring an end to this irresponsibilty” gets some hearty applause.
Hints at Social Security privatization, but ever so gently.
Iraq is the current front in the global war on islamic extremism. It’s a long war. What that means exactly is unclear.
I have no idea why people are whistling and clapping right now. (11:21)
Fred is the first to mention 11-year-olds getting birth control. This is surprising.
“I don’t know what I’d do in my first 100 days [seriously!]…but I know what I’d do for the first hour. I’d close the doors to the oval office and pray for the wisdom to do what is right.”
Loooooooong ovation, whistling, everyone standing. I stand corrected, Fred Thompson can make ‘em jump.
Fred’s shock troops are cheering “Go Fred, Go!” holding flourescent blue signs as Johnny Cash plays again.