As the presidential candidates prepare to discuss faith and politics on Saturday, the pastor who officiated Jenna Bush's wedding ripped into Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Friday for jokingly volunteering his wife last week for a beauty pageant that often features contestants topless.
"Well, I don't know a lot about John McCain's family history, I do know, however, that as recently as last week I think it was, the Senator made a comment in South Dakota regarding his wife entering some Buffalo Chips contest which is this topless deal and if she were to enter she would probably win it and my personal opinion and based on my understanding of the Christian faith, that's not not, N-O-T, not the type of expression that a presidential candidate, or anyone for that matter who is a follower of the Christian faith, ought to make," said the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell. "I don't know if that is a perfect case in point, but it surely does help to juxtapose the DNA of Senator Obama, if you would, versus the DNA of Senator McCain."
Caldwell, a close personal friend of President Bush who supports Obama, is the senior pastor at Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas. Caldwell made his comments on a conference call with reporters sponsored by the Matthew 25 Network, a liberal Christian Group. Matthew 25 is planning to air a pro-Obama ad on Saturday during the Rick Warren forum with Obama and McCain. The ad will air on CNN and possibly MSNBC, according to the group's spokesperson.
After using the Buffalo Chips comment to juxtapose the "DNA" of McCain and Obama, Caldwell invoked comments that Rick Warren made about adultery in a Thursday interview with ABC News' Jake Tapper to raise additional questions about McCain.
"His marital history has been duly recorded," said Caldwell, referring to McCain, "and as recently as yesterday I think it is, our pastor from Saddleback, Rick Warren indicated that he would not feel comfortable voting for an adulterer and I don't know exactly to whom he was referring but I think the data speaks for itself, and again, at the end of the day, and I really appreciate you raising this because, at the end of the day again I think the American public deserves full revelation of the candidate's character and competency. Character and competency. So, whatever questions that should be asked that would give the voting public an indication as to who they are and what they've done should be fair game."
Asked by ABC's Tapper in the context of John Edwards if he would have compunctions about voting for someone who had cheated on his wife, Warren said Thursday, "Absolutely I would. 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? My nation? . . . Absolutely I would. I think people first need to ask forgiveness and then earn trust back over time Can trust be re-earned? Absolutely but it takes time."
In "Worth the Fighting For," McCain wrote that the collapse of his first marriage was attributable to his own "selfishness and immaturity."
"The blame was entirely mine," wrote McCain.
McCain spokesman Brian Rogers has responded to Caldwell's criticism by saying: "These people are Obama campaign surrogates. These kinds of personal attacks are disgraceful. This absolutely exposes the hypocrisy of Obama's claim to represent a 'new kind of politics.'"