Purpose Driven Candidates: Obama, McCain Seek Rick Warren's Blessing

The presidential campaign has been repeatedly buffeted by religion, and faith will take the spotlight again this weekend as rivals Barack Obama and John McCain make a pilgrimmage to the influential Saddleback Church to woo its best-selling pastor, Rick Warren.

The two candidates will make a joint appearance at the southern California mega-church to be grilled by Warren, the author of "The Purpose Driven Life."

Sen. Obama, D-Ill., will go first, while Sen. McCain, R-Ariz., waits in another room. Each will be questioned for one hour by Warren and asked the exact same questions.

"We're going to look at leadership, specifically their character, their competence, their experience," Warren told ABC News in a interview for "Good Morning America." [WATCH A PART OF THE INTERVIEW HERE]

"I want to give America a better, closer look at the two candidates. I think we want to see not just their values, but their vision, their virtues," he said.


Rick Warren Obama Inaugural

Warren's blessing could be crucial in the battle for the votes of evangelical Christians, votes that are usually safely Republican. But he has indicated that he won't endorse anyone in the 2008 presidential campaign.

McCain, Obama Seek Evangelical Vote

Warren says he has seen Obama making a play for evangelical voters this year and that Democrats are reaching out to people of faith in ways they havent in recent years.

Obama's bid for evangelical Christians comes as polls indicate a lack of enthusiasm among that community for McCain, who called the Rev. Jerry Falwell "an agent of intolerance" during 2000 campaign but subsequently embraced the conservative religious leader, prior the 2008 campaign.

The powerful and polarizing Falwell passed away in May 2007.

Obama has also been encouraged by an expansion of the evangelical agenda to include poverty, AIDS and the environment.

"Many evangelicals think neither of these guys are evangelical," Warren told "GMA".

He said the key for many evangelicals is the candidates' "relationship to Jesus Christ ... I'm going to give them a chance to explain themselves."

Warren Blasts Edwards for Affair

While McCain has in the past seemed reluctant to talk publicly about his faith, Obama has never shied away from discussing his faith in Christ. The presumptive Democratic nominee has previously visited Saddleback on at least one occasion.

Warren had scathing words for one politician who won't be present this week, ripping into former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., for repeatedly lying about having an affair with a woman hired to make videos for his failed presidential campaign.

"There's a difference between forgiveness and trust," he told ABC News. "John Edwards and others like him have lost the trust of America."

The minister said he would have compunctions against voting for someone who cheated on his wife.

"Absolutely I would because if you can't keep your faith to your most sacred vow 'til death do us part, how in the world can I trust you to lead my family? My government?"

ABC News' Teddy Davis reports that the minister who performed the marriage for President George Bush's daughter Jenna cited Warren's comments about Edwards today to rip into McCain, whose first marriage collapsed after what McCain has described as his "selfishness and immaturity."

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