As conservative Christians get ready to vote, Pat Buchanan, an adviser to three American presidents who himself ran twice for the Republican presidential nomination, said the Ted Haggard scandal would not shake their convictions.
However, Buchanan said, Christians around the country are more dissatisfied and disillusioned with the Republican Party than ever before. While they won't change their vote over Haggard, there's a sense that core Republicans have been let down, and there are a lot of problems with the Republican Party, Buchanan told "Exclusiva," ABC News Now's Hispanic news program.
"There's the spending orgy, the arrogance of power, for me," he said. "The war in Iraq, failure to protect our border, hurting the working class in Ohio, for example, the list goes on and on. We're more dissatisfied with the Republican Party than we've ever been."
Haggard resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and was relieved of his duties as senior pastor of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., after a former male escort alleged they had sex repeatedly and that Haggard sometimes was on methamphetamines during their trysts. In a statement read at the church Sunday, Haggard confessed to unspecified "sexual immorality," accepted responsibility for his actions and asked for forgiveness.
Although Buchanan didn't point fingers at Haggard, he conceded that the political disillusionment may drive a wedge between religion and politics for the evangelicals and fundamentalists who have come to see the political and the religious as one and the same.
Buchanan said there's some validity to the belief some conservative Christians feel that they have come too close too power and that power corrupts.
Some evangelicals, Buchanan said, may even consider withdrawing from the political arena, returning to the time before the 1970s and '80s, and take an example from the Catholic Church, where priests stay out of politics.
So what will happen in today's midterm elections? In addition to fully expecting trouble around the country with voting machines, Buchanan said, "the Democrats will take the House."
But if Democrats do worse than expected, he believes John Kerry may be the man many party members blame. Kerry caused a furor last week when he made what he described as a "botched joke" about President Bush's failed policy in Iraq as he told a group of college students that people who don't study and do their homework were likely to "get stuck in Iraq."
Still, Buchanan said, it does not look good for Republicans.
"I have never seen numbers favoring Democrats as much," he said.
As far as some of the competitive Senate races, here are some of Buchanan's personal picks:
Maryland: Democratic Senate candidate Ben Cardin is struggling to hold on to a seat in danger of slipping into Republican hands. But Buchanan thinks the Republican contender, Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, will lose.
"Although Steele has a future in the Republican Party and the nation, Cardin will win," he said.
Pennsylvania: Voters are likely to elect Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, to a full Senate term, electing a Democrat to that office for the first time in more than 40 years, according to Buchanan.