More on Gambling and the Religious Right

Just a few hours ago I wrote about the DNC efforts to highlight John McCain’s ties to the gambling industry and target that message at Religious Right voters who vehemently oppose gambling and consider it a sin. 

Now, on a related note, Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post has a piece up about Freedom’s Watch, noting that “in the past 10 days, [it] has dropped more than $1.6 million on ads in six House races and two Senate contests” as part of its effort to help Republican candidates. The man behind the organization is Sheldon Adelson, the third richest man in America who just so happened to make his fortune as a Las Vegas casino mogul and, as Cillizza reports, the Religious Right is not happy about his efforts:

Democrats have sought to make Adelson an issue in their response to Freedom’s Watch’s activities and, in Alabama’s 2nd district, got a boost from the state Christian Coalition today.

“Sheldon Adelson does not share our values as Alabamans, and Freedom’s Watch’s underhanded attack ads do nothing but cheapen the political discourse in this state,” said Dr. Randy Brinson, president of the Alabama Christian Coalition. “Where Adelson has placed his treasure makes it quite clear where his heart is: in gambling and in backing the regime in China that persecutes Christians.”

For the record, The Christian Coalition of Alabama broke with the national Christian Coalition last year and now goes by the name Christian Action Alabama. But before the name change, they were the ones who were duped into accepting gambling funds by Ralph Reed as mentioned in the previous post.  

According to the recent New York Times article on McCain’s ties to the industry, there were concerns that his gambling forays might create the appearance of impropriety and alienate the base, which McCain dismissed:

For much of his adult life, Mr. McCain has gambled as often as once a month, friends and associates said, traveling to Las Vegas for weekend betting marathons. Former senior campaign officials said they worried about Mr. McCain’s patronage of casinos, given the power he wields over the industry. The officials, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We were always concerned about appearances,” one former official said. “If you go around saying that appearances matter, then they matter.”

The former official said he would tell Mr. McCain: “Do we really have to go to a casino? I don’t think it’s a good idea. The base doesn’t like it. It doesn’t look good. And good things don’t happen in casinos at midnight.”

“You worry too much,” Mr. McCain would respond, the official said.

Considering that the Religious Right is willing to publicly blast Adleson’s political efforts because of the source of his wealth, it seems that it might have been prudent of McCain to have paid a little more attention to the concerns of the base on this issue.