John McCain called Jerry Falwell 'divisive' during his last presidential run. That run didn't pan out, so now McCain's taking a different tack. (Thanks to ThinkProgress.org for this transcript with Tim Russert today.)
MCCAIN: As regards to Rev. Falwell, which is the major thrust of your comments, I met with Rev. Falwell. He came to see me in Washington. We agreed to disagree on certain issues, and we agreed to move forward. I believe that speaking at Liberty University is no different from speaking at the New College or Ohio State University, all of which I’m speaking. I speak at a lot of colleges and universities. I’m pleased to have the opportunity to do so, to talk to young Americans and talk to them about the obligations and the privileges of freedom.
RUSSERT: But, Senator, when you were on here in 2000, I asked you about Jerry Falwell, and this is what you said:
MCCAIN (clip, 3/5/00): Gov. Bush swung far to the right and sought out the base support of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. Those aren’t the ideas that I think are good for the Republican Party.
RUSSERT: Do you think that Jerry Falwell’s ideas are now good for the Republican Party?
MCCAIN: I believe that the “Christian Right” has a major role to play in the Republican Party. One reason is because they’re so active and their followers are. And I believe they have a right to be a part of our party. I don’t have to agree with everything they stand for, nor do I have to agree with everything that’s on the liberal side of the Republican Party. If we have to agree on every issue, we’re not a Republican Party. I believe in open and honest debate. Was I unhappy in the year 2000 that I lost the primary and there were some attacks on me that I thought was unfair? Of course. Should I get over it? Should I serve — can I serve the people of Arizona best by looking back in anger or moving forward?
RUSSERT: Do you believe that Jerry Falwell is still an agent of intolerance?
MCCAIN: No, I don’t. I think that Jerry Falwell can explain how his views on this program when you have him on.
Yay! Russert asked a followup for once. Send him a card or something. But he could've probed deeper. "In 1994, Falwell took a $3.5 million dollar bailout (src. Rotten.com) from the cult leader, Rev. Sun Myung Moon - a man who claims to be the messiah and has called Jesus 'a failure'," the fantasy Russert with balls would ask, "Do you believe that this is representative of the 'christian right' you just spoke of?"
Then he could flash this photo. Yeah, like that'll ever happen...
(Keywords: politics, media, religion, elections )