Bauer asks McCain to retract statements about religious conservative leaders
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former GOP presidential candidate Gary Bauer, a
popular figure among religious conservatives who recently endorsed Arizona Sen. John McCain's presidential bid, issued a statement Wednesday urging McCain to retract statements he made Monday concerning Revs. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.
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Bauer said, "I must in the strongest possible terms repudiate Sen.
McCain's unwarranted, ill-advised and divisive attacks on certain religious
In Virginia Beach, Virginia speech on Monday, McCain called Robertson and Falwell "agents of intolerance." He called them "fringe" figures in conservative politics, comparable to the status of Rev. Al Sharpton and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in Democratic politics.
Bauer appeared with McCain at the Virginia Beach speech and defended his
comments at the time. Wednesday, he took a different tack.
"I call on Senator McCain to retract his recent statements and apologize
to Pat Robertson and the Rev. Jerry Falwell, as well as all men and women of
faith," said Bauer in the statement. "Senator McCain must not allow his
personal differences with any individual to cloud his judgement. The
comparison of these respected conservative leaders to demagogic race-baiter Al
Sharpton and the anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan was unfounded and unwise."
In recent weeks, the campaign between McCain and Texas Gov. George W.
Bush has been dominated by charges of religious intolerance. McCain criticized
Bush for failing to speak out against the anti-Catholicism of certain leaders during a visit to Bob Jones University in South Carolina last month. McCain's campaign later made phone calls to Catholic voters in Michigan, drawing attention to Bush's visit to Bob Jones.
Meanwhile, Rev. Pat Robertson made calls of his own to Michigan voters on
behalf of Bush, criticizing McCain and calling one of the co-chairs of his
campaign a "vicious bigot." Robertson has criticized McCain for being
insufficiently strong in his anti-abortion position, and for favoring campaign
finance reform that Robertson says would stifle the voice of citizen
organizations like the Christian Coalition, which Robertson founded.