Gary Bauer’s “Credibility Problem”

Over the last several months, one of the ways John McCain has been working to sell himself to the GOP’s skeptical right-wing base has to repeatedly promise them that, if elected, he will appoint justices like John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court – an effort that has recently been paying dividends.  

But over the weekend, McCain sought to woo supporters of Hillary Clinton and, according to press reports, seemed to be trying to downplay that promise.  As Politico reported:

Bower said he’d liked McCain’s answer on judges, in which he “pointed out that he supported Bill Clinton with both Ginsberg and Breyer.”

For its part, the New York Times reported something similar:

Mr. McCain, who opposes abortion rights, also promised he would not perform a litmus test on potential judges.

Not surprisingly, the Barack Obama campaign responded to McCain’s apparent back-tracking by highlighting this 2005 statement from long-time McCain supporter Gary Bauer claiming that the reason he supported McCain over George Bush in 2000 was McCain’s explicit promise that he would indeed have a pro-life litmus test for his nominees:

Somewhat surprisingly, McCain had the support of Gary Bauer, the social conservative, who had dropped out of the race by that time. “I wanted a commitment from either George Bush or John McCain that if elected he would appoint pro-life judges to the Supreme Court,” Bauer told me. “Bush said he had no litmus test, and his judges would be strict constructionists. But McCain, in private, assured me he would appoint pro-life judges.”

In an attempt to clear up the matter, CBN’s David Brody contacted Bauer, who is now trying to spin the discrepancy in a way that suggests that Obama is “the one with a credibility problem”:  

“When I met privately with Senator McCain in 2000 he did not tell me that he would have a pro-life “litmus test” for judges. Instead he described the type of judicial philosophy he would require in his judicial appointments. I interpreted that judicial philosophy to be one that would reject judicial activism.

“Senator Obama is the one with a credibility problem, not Senator McCain. Senator Obama says he wants a compassionate American where the ‘little guy’ is protected. Instead he proudly supports partial birth abortion, and abortions in the last months of pregnancy. He abandons the littlest guy of all – our unborn children.”

So Bauer would have us believe that the reason he didn’t support Bush in 2000 was that Bush wouldn’t promise a litmus test while McCain would, but that, now that he thinks about it, said litmus test really wasn’t a litmus test at all, it was really just a vague statement about judicial philosophy – a statement about philosophy that Bush was apparently unwilling to make to Bauer despite the fact he was regularly making exactly that sort of statement in public settings, such as the first debate with Al Gore when he said “I don’t believe in liberal activist judges. I believe in strict constructionists. Those are the kind of judges I will appoint.”

If anybody had a “credibility problem” here, it’s Bauer.