'Cone of Silence'

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.'"

A Republican strategist speaking on the condition of anonymity says: "My advice to the Obama people: 'proceed with extreme caution.' They don't want to get into a discussion of character and background. They are opening a door that they will not be able to close. They are putting on the table issues and personalities that they do not want to discuss."

Asked which personalities, the strategist cited the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko, and former Obama law partners.

The Obama campaign had no immediate reaction to Caldwell or the McCain campaign's response.

The presidential candidates will be questioned on Saturday by Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church and best-selling author of "The Purpose-Driven Life."

A coin toss determined that Obama will go first. Both candidates will receive the same questions. Warren says that McCain will be kept in a "cone of silence" while Obama is being questioned so that he does not receive an unfair advantage.

Saturday's Obama-McCain event with Rick Warren begins at 8:00 pm ET.

TiVo alert:

Tune into ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday for McCain VP prospect Mitt Romney and Obama adviser Tom Daschle who will appear together at the same time. Also appearing on Sunday's show: Defense Secretary Gates.

The Kicker:

"He is not a Muslim -- no disrespect to Muslims."

--The Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, the pastor who officiated Jenna Bush's wedding, on Barack Obama

On the campaign front. . .


-- 8:00 pm Saturday, Saddleback Conference with Pastor Rick Warren, Lake Forest, CA.

-- No public events Sunday

-- Midday Monday, Veterans of Foreign Wars event in Orlando, Fla.


-- 8:00 pm Saturday, Saddleback Conference with Pastor Rick Warren, Lake Forest, CA.

-- Midday Sunday, Event in Reno, NV.

-- Midday Monday, Event in New Mexico

At the White House. . .


-- Begins vacation in Crawford, Texas.


ABC News' Ron Claiborne: McCain Camp: Raised $27-Million in July LINK

ABC News' Emma Schwartz: Lawsuit Filed Against Gonzales & DOJ Officials LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Purpose Driven Candidates: Obama, McCain Seek Rick Warren's Blessing LINK

ABC News' Gary Langer: The Evangelical Vote LINK

ABC News' Avni Patel and Justin Rood: Democrats Won't Disavow Edwards Mailing LINK

ABC News' Bret Hovell: Phil Gramm Returns to McCain Campaign Fold LINK

ABC News' Ron Claiborne: McCain Fights a Chill in Aspen LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Is a Liberal Christian Group's TV Ad Suggesting McCain is an Adulterer? LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: More Vaguely Clever Pro-Obama Propaganda LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Ooooh, That Smell. Can't You Smell That Smell? LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Rick Warren Takes On His Critics: "I'm a Big Target" LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: President McCain Sends Secretary of State Lieberman and Defense Secretary Graham to Tbilisi LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Rick Warren Would Have Serious Compunctions About Voting for an Adulterer, Says John Edwards Has Lost the Trust of America LINK


'The Note' Rewinds the Week's Best Moments
ABC News' Senior Political Reporter Rick Klein on the weekly political roundup. LINK

Religion in the '08 Election
The candidates are taking part in a forum hosted by Pastor Rick Warren. LINK

Obama's Air Scare
New audio tapes reveal that candidate's plane was in serious danger. LINK

Clinton Will be Nominated
Primary runner-up will be officially placed in the nomination at DNC. LINK

Spotlight on Second in Command
What does it take to be vice president. Do voters care? LINK