McCain Stuck Playing Second Fiddle to His Own Running Mate

The Dallas Morning News reports that David Barton of Wallbuilders has been out on the road doing what he does every election cycle – working the churches in an effort to get people to vote Republican:

David Barton never specifically mentioned Sarah Palin from the pulpit. But everybody knew what he meant.

“Christians, you’ve got to register. You’ve got to vote. You’ve got to vote your values,” the Texan told parishioners who packed Genoa Baptist Church last week.

But this time around, it looks like his job might be a little more challenging because, even though the Religious Right loves Palin, they are still unsure about her running mate:

His warning, designed to push attendees at Tuesday’s event to the polls, may be prescient. Ms. Palin’s nomination initially energized Christian conservatives, the constituency that has helped Republicans win elections for a generation.

But in this key swing state and elsewhere, there’s still a sense of impending political doom.

Ms. Palin is wildly popular with conservative evangelicals, but they’re still lukewarm over John McCain, because of past disappointments, Republican miscues, Bush fatigue and especially the roiling economic crisis.

In fact, while right-wing support for the McCain campaign has skyrocketed since he tapped Palin, it looks like McCain himself is barely even figuring into the Right’s get-out-the-vote efforts on behalf of his campaign:   

Phil Burress, who heads the group, spearheaded passage of the Ohio marriage amendment in 2004. In June, he told Mr. McCain at a private meeting in Cincinnati that if he didn’t pick an anti-abortion running mate, he would lose evangelical support – and the state of Ohio as a result.

“I know evangelicals, and they were sitting on their hands,” he said. “The ship was just sitting there, nobody at the steering wheel and no engine running.”

He’s confident Ms. Palin changed things, but that might not be enough. Recent polls indicate Mr. Obama’s lead is growing in Ohio.

Mr. Burress said he has faith. There’s a bumper sticker his wife put on their car that says, “Palin Power.”

“It doesn’t even say anything about John McCain,” he said.