Loyalty isn't really up there in the book of political virtues. Just ask President Bush, who was mentioned a scant seven times in last night's Republican debate.
But even though politicians have never been the most loyal bunch, there's one guy they always seem to want in their corner. Someone whose poll numbers are so consistently stellar, it's almost a miracle. Someone who never makes mistakes and whose actions are always fraught with purpose and meaning. I'm talking about God. He was mentioned a whopping 21 times by the Republican candidates last night ... and I'm not even counting "God bless yous" and "I hope to Gods."
This week, the campaign trail turned into an old-fashioned camp meeting, with Republicans and Democrats alike declaring Jesus Christ as their personal savior.
At the Sojourners Conference on Monday, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards gave deeply personal testimonies of how the Lord saw them through their darkest hours. At last night's Republican debate, Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, delivered a moving sermon on the glory of creation. John McCain spoke about the "hand of God" moving in the world today. And Mitt Romney, the only Mormon in the contest, said no man would tear him from his church.
What are these people running for, anyway?
This year, possibly more than any other in modern American politics, presidential candidates of both parties are posting their faith credentials right alongside their policy positions.
George W. Bush and Karl Rove have a lot to do with it. They proved that millions of Americans are very comfortable hearing their leaders speak openly about faith. In 2004, 1 out of 4 voters was a white evangelical and they voted overwhelmingly for Bush. The current crop of Republicans is fighting hard to win over that powerful coalition.
The Democrats, meanwhile, are desperate to shake-off their image as a party of secular elitists. In the 2006 Congressional elections, a number of conservative, anti-abortion Democrats proudly declared their faith and scored some impressive victories.
Maybe that's why this week feels a little like Church Chat.
What do you think? Do you like to hear political candidates discuss their religious beliefs? Does it give you a window into the kind of president they would be?
-- By Claire Brinberg, CNN Producer