Burress, Schlafly, Barton Dispense with McCain Foreplay

After a private meeting with John McCain, Ohio Religious Right icon Phil Burress remained a little ho-hum about the candidate he felt obligated to support, but soon enough—after McCain announced his support for California’s anti-gay marriage amendment, anyway—Burress was bubbling over with excitement:

He says McCain was courteous and took detailed notes on what the six had to say about issues such as the sanctity of life, marriage, and judges. “It was so refreshing to me because he was so different than any other politician that I have ever met,” describes Burress. He says McCain is not swayed like other politicians. …

“…[I] left there a changed man,” he admits.

Burress wrote to his supporters that after the meeting, “40 Ohio Pro-Family Forum leaders … have decided to move forward and start working to educate Ohio Values Voters about the vast differences between McCain and Obama.”

I was once one of those people who said “no way” to Senator John McCain as President. No longer. The stakes are too high. And if Obama wins I need to able to get up on November 5th, look at myself in the mirror, and when I pray, say, “Lord, I did all that I could.”

And today, Burress joined a hundred other activists—including far-right heavyweights Phyllis Schlafly and David Barton—in Denver to commit to campaign for McCain:

“Collectively we feel that he will support and advance those moral values that we hold much greater than Obama, who in our view will decimate moral values,” said Mat Staver, the chairman of Liberty Counsel, a legal advocacy group, who previously supported Mike Huckabee’s candidacy. …

The group included leaders like Phyllis Schlafly, the long-time leader of Eagle Forum; Steve Strang, the publisher of Charisma magazine; Phil Burress, a prominent Ohio marriage and anti-pornography activist; David Barton, the founder of WallBuilders and Donald Hodel, a former secretary of the Interior, who previously served on the board of Focus on the Family. Jim Dobson, the head of Focus and an outspoken critic of McCain, did not attend. The McCain campaign was also not directly represented at the meeting.

A second person who attended the event, but asked not to be named, said that the group was motivated principally by a desire to defeat Barack Obama. “None of these people want to meet their maker knowing that they didn’t do everything they could to keep Barack Obama from being president,” the participant said. “You’ve got these two people running for president. One of them is going to become president. That’s the perspective. That that’s the whole discussion.” …

On a recent swing through Ohio, McCain met with a group of religious leaders and activists, including Burress, who has previously been critical of McCain’s lack of outreach to Christian conservatives. According to two participants at the Tuesday meeting in Denver, Burress spoke out strongly in favor of uniting behind McCain’s candidacy.

Staver said the McCain campaign was making progress but still had more work to do. “I think that the outreach to the community has to increase significantly,” he said. “There is a clear enthusiasm.”