David Brody with CBNNews.com is on a roll. Following his article this morning setting the record straight on Fred Thompson's refusal to debate Huckabee one-on-one, he has an insightful piece on the top-tier's discomfort about talking about religion:
So let me get this straight? Rudy Giuliani doesn’t want to talk about his religion. Mitt Romney doesn’t either. John McCain is not enagaging. Now Fred Thompson doesn’t want to go there. The only Republican actively talking about his faith is Mike Huckabee. Read below from Bloomberg News:
Republican presidential contender Fred Thompson, who is basing his campaign on an appeal to conservative voters, says he isn't a regular churchgoer and doesn't plan to speak about his religion on the stump.
The former senator from Tennessee later told reporters that his church attendance "varies."
"I attend church when I'm in Tennessee. I'm in McLean right now," he said referring to the Virginia suburb of Washington, where he lives with his wife, Jeri, and their two young children. "I don't attend regularly when I'm up there."
Thompson, 65, said he usually goes to church when visiting his mother, who attends a Church of Christ in Brentwood, Tennessee, outside of Nashville. Thompson said he isn't a member of any church in the Washington area.
Thompson's remarks may not play well with some religious voters who represent a sizable segment of the Republican Party and whose support he has been courting, portraying himself as a "common-sense conservative." President George W. Bush received 78 percent of the evangelical Christian vote in 2004 while Democrat John Kerry got 21 percent of that vote, according to the Pew Research Center.
In his first South Carolina campaign event yesterday, Thompson brought up his childhood church and said God gives him the "strength and wisdom" to tell "the truth." The comments marked the most Thompson has said to date on the campaign trail about his religion.
A woman in the crowd asked the former senator whether he would commit to talking about God nationwide, not just in a southern state such as South Carolina, where many people identify themselves as evangelical Christians.
Thompson responded by saying he has a relationship with God and doesn't plan to talk about it widely on the campaign trail.
"I know that I'm right with God and the people I love," he said in Greenville. But it's "just the way I am not to talk about some of these things."
I understand that presidential candidates aren’t running for Pastor-in-Chief. But there has been such a movement by the top tier Republican candidates to distance themselves from any talk about God and Church that quite frankly, it’s been rather startling. This is an opportunity for Baptist preacher and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee to gain ground.
Should we be monitoring a candidate’s Church attendance? Of course not. That’s not the true indicator. This is not about who’s more religious. That’s not the question. The larger issue here is which candidate will get the support from the bulk of religious conservatives? The top tier guys want their support but don’t want to engage in the religious part of the discussion. The lower tier candidates will talk about it but can’t raise much money.
That leaves Huckabee as the wild card; a candidate who may be the guy to bridge the gap? He’s comfortable talking about his faith on the stump AND serious about policy too.