Obama's Plans To Sway Evangelical Voters John McCain turned the battle for evangelical voters on its head when he announced Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin would be his running mate. How can Barack Obama capture some of that religious enthusiasm?

Obama's Plans To Sway Evangelical Voters

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So, Kirk's unscientific sampling finds Sarah Palin winning votes for the Republican ticket, especially among religious conservatives. An ABC News poll finds 81 percent of white evangelicals like her, and she makes them even more likely to vote for John McCain.


So, what is his rival to do? Barack Obama has picked a 26-year-old Pentecostal pastor to lead his outreach efforts to the people of faith. And Josh DuBois is with us now. Welcome to the program.

Pastor JOSH DUBOIS (Director, Religious Affairs, Obama for America): It's a pleasure to be on with you.

BRAND: Well, what is your answer to Sarah Palin and her appeal to evangelicals?

Pastor DUBOIS: Well, certainly Governor Palin excites some folks in the Republican base. Those folks were concerned with, you know, one or two issues. But you know what? This year, many Evangelicals, and just like many people of all faiths, are voting on a range of values issues that are of concern to Americans. And on those issues - from healthcare, to poverty, to energy - you know, Senator Obama is standing up and talking about them as value issues, from shrinking families to encouraging personal responsibilities. So, there's still a tremendous amount of appeal for Senator Obama among moderate evangelicals, moderate people of all faiths, and we are excited about the support that they are extending to him.

BRAND: Well, what do you say to Evangelicals and people on the religious right who are powerfully pro-life? Barack Obama is pr-choice.

Pastor DUBOIS: Senator Obama considers abortion to be a moral issue, and those who don't acknowledge the moral elements of it aren't giving it its full weight. Now, at the end of the day, he believes that women are in the best position to make this difficult choice. But we can agree on some things. We can agree to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby abortions, and support women and provide them with a full range of choices, including the choice to keep the child and through adoption, and by supporting healthcare for women and children. So, the Democratic Party is the party of providing a full range of choices for women, while John McCain and Sarah Palin just provide no choices at all.

BRAND: Your candidate, Barack Obama, doesn't do well amongst white Catholics, and that is one reason that a lot of people say Joe Biden was picked, to shore up that side of the party. And then now, you've got a problem with white Evangelicals. Add it up, that seems to be a pretty big political problem for you.

Pastor DUBOIS: That's actually couldn't be further from the truth. The recent Barna Group poll, a respected poll among religious communities, shows Senator Obama winning in 16 out of 17 Christian categories. He's consistently polled either even or ahead among Catholics, and even won among born-again Christians in the last widely reported Barna poll. And instead of sort of engaging on that particular question, I would actually question the premise there, that, you know, Senator Obama's certainly not lagging behind in many religious groups.

BRAND: What about the other side? Secular voters who might be turned off by a lot of talk about faith and faith in politics? People who say there's reason why there's separation between church and state?

Pastor DUBOIS: Senator Obama is trying to find a responsible middle ground here, where we're engaging religious communities and understanding the role of religion in American life, but we're not co-opting religion and we're not violating the separation between church and state. You know, on the one hand, too many times progressives have failed to acknowledge the role of religion in American life. But on the other side of things, many of our Republican friends, we think, have gone too far in some instances. So, he's trying to talk about the role of values and the pressing policy problems that we're facing as a country, but not go too far and not co-opt religious institutions.

BRAND: Josh, you're 26 years old?

Pastor DUBOIS: That's correct.

BRAND: Twenty-six years old, I mean, do you ever look around you? You're in the midst of this presidential campaign and you say, how did I get here?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Pastor DUBOIS: Well, I've been with Senator Obama for a long time. I actually started with him in 2005. So, for a long time I've gotten to know him and his values and really what motivates him. So, it makes my job easy, to care so deeply about making sure that, you know, the best of our values are expressed in our public life.

BRAND: Thank you very much.

Pastor DUBOIS: Thank you.

BRAND: That's Josh DuBois. He's director of religious affairs for Barack Obama.

CHADWICK: And a program note, we have asked for an interview with John McCain's evangelical outreach director. We hope to have that for you later this week.

(Soundbite of music)

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