McCain Winning Over the Right With SCOTUS Talk

John McCain’s courting of Religious Right leaders and activists started off badly, culminating in the Rod Parsley/John Hagee debacle back in May, but since then, the campaign seems to have regained its footing and subsequent lower-profile efforts have been startlingly effective:

As we noted a few weeks ago, McCain quietly met with a handful of right-wing leaders at which he was pressured to start talking more in public about the issues they care about and, as if to signal that he heard the message loud and clear, announced the next day that he supported the anti-gay California Marriage Amendment. From that point, things began to pick up and just last week, he secured the support of a bevy of right-wing activists like Mat Staver, Tim and Beverly LaHaye, Phyllis Schlafly, Rick Scarborough, and David Barton.

Just last week we were noting how the Right, even though not traditionally supportive of McCain, was working diligently to remind its supporters that the future of the Supreme Court is at stake in the next election. It seems that the McCain campaign has been playing up that angle in its outreach efforts as well:

Mr. Burress said he, Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly, former interior secretary and Christian Coalition leader Donald P. Hodel, WallBuilders founder David Barton, Liberty Council counsel Mathew Staver and others have been moved to work for the election of Mr. McCain.

He cited mostly their trust in several McCain promises – to make judicial appointments that will resemble that of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Antonin Scalia, to “get serious” on abortion and same-sex marriage, and to push values issues in general.

It looks like this is a coordinated message that the McCain campaign and its surrogates are committed to spreading far and wide:

A pro-family activist and former presidential candidate says people of faith cannot afford to endure four years of Barack Obama in hopes that he will be defeated in 2012. Gary Bauer says it’s all about the Supreme Court.

But Bauer, who is chairman of American Values, says the American public cannot afford to wait four years. “Today we’re only one vote away from having a pro-life, pro-family majority in the Supreme Court,” he observes. “If Barack Obama is elected, that opportunity will lost, I believe, for several decades.”

CNSNews reports that Sen. Fred Thompson brought that message to the National Right to Life Committee’s annual convention last week and that it was well-received:

The 2008 presidential election is “foremost about the United States Supreme Court,” the president of the National Right to Life Committee said at the group’s annual convention Thursday.

“It’s not the economy, stupid,” said Dr. Wanda Franz, referencing President Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign slogan. “No, for us, it’s the Supreme Court.”

“It is absolutely vital to have a court that is on the right side,” said Gregg Trude, executive director of Montana Right to Life.

“We are very hopeful that the next Supreme Court vacancy is filled by someone who believes what the Constitution says and believes that it is the role of judges to interpret the law and not to make the law,” Lauinger said.

So popular is the message, in fact, that McCain himself made sure to work it into his own remarks at the NRLC convention:

I will look for accomplished men and women, with a proven record of excellence in the law, and a proven commitment, to strictly interpreting the Constitution of the United States. I will look for people in the cast of John Roberts, Sam Alito, my friend the late William Rehnquist, jurists of the highest caliber who know their own minds, and know the law, and know the difference. I have been pro-life, my entire public career.