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Partisan Politics And The Christian Coalition

In secretly recorded tapes, Roberts lays out a hardball agenda

By Gene Randall/CNN


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sep. 18) -- Earlier this week, CNN reported on last weekend's meeting of the Christian Coalition in Atlanta. Now it turns out, there is more to the story that the group preferred untold.

The group is under investigation by the I.R.S. and the Federal Election Commission for cozying up to the Republican Party, and its tax-exempt status could be in jeopardy.

When he addressed a closed meeting of his state organizers on Saturday in Atlanta, coalition founder Pat Robertson said he was speaking in the family.

"It's speaking out of my heart and not from any kind of prepared text," Robertson said. "If there's any press here, would you please shoot yourself? Leave, do something." (160K wav sound)


In what followed, Robertson sounded very much the political partisan. "We still haven't gotten the influence I think we ought to have inside the Republican Party," he told the assembled crowd. "We're still not totally like we should be." (160K wav sound)

Robertson's prescription? "We just tell these guys, look, we put you in power in 1994 and we want you to deliver," he said. "We're tired of temporizing. Don't give us all this stuff about well, you've got a different agenda. This is your agenda. This is what you're going to do this year and we're going to hold your feet to the fire while you do it." (224K wav sound)

On the Democrats' White House chances in the year 2000, Robertson said, "I don't think there's any question that 'Ozone Al [Gore]' is out of it. I mean, he's gone. We've got one that smoked but didn't inhale. Now, we've got one that only made a few calls. It was only 70 and there was 'no controlling legal authority.'

"Then," Robertson continued, "you've got [Rep. Dick] Gephardt, who's probably worse, in the pocket of the labor unions and we don't need somebody like that." (320K wav sound)

But Robertson said there were lessons to be learned from some infamous Democratic Party machines of the past. "You know, the Tammany Halls and Hague and the Chicago machine and the Byrd machine in Virginia and all the rest of them, they have identified cores of people who have bought into the values, whatever they were, and they worked the elections and brought people out to vote." (224K wav sound)

All of this was surreptitiously audiotaped by the group Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

Barry Lynn, executive director of the group, says the session was telling. "I've listened to Pat Robertson for 15 years, and I've never heard him say as directly and bluntly that this is a hardball political operation, that it expects people to do -- once they help them get elected -- do exactly what they say."

A Christian Coalition spokesman, refusing an on-camera interview, told CNN, "This was Pat Robertson simply offering a personal assessment of the political landscape."

Meanwhile, Americans United says it will send copies of its tape to the I.R.S. and the Federal Election Commission.

In Other News:

Thursday Sept. 18, 1997

Tamraz: Contributions Bought White House Access
Partisan Politics And The Christian Coalition
N.Y. Runoff Canceled, Sharpton Files Suit
It's 'Day One' In Tobacco War
First Lady Asks Press To Respect Chelsea's Privacy
Helms Backs NATO Expansion
Albright Boosts Clinton Trade Plan
Internet Site To Monitor Kids TV
No Tobacco Settlement This Year
Clinton Promises To Protect Farmers
NATO Hints At Further Bosnia Role
NEA Survives Attack In Senate
Reno Defends Campaign Task Force

E-mail From Washington:
GOP Lawmakers Ask For Explanation Of Jones' Audit
Justice Wants O'Leary Probe
Justice Won't Object To Immunity Request
Gore Says He's Cooperating With Justice Department
House Ponders Barring Bob Dornan From The Floor
Gephardt Rips Clinton Trade Proposal

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