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John McCain on Meet the Press today:

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. [No, but if you want to be elected with their help you have to change your mind on a marriage amendment to appease them, huh? Guess you literally meant “Straight Talk” as your campaign theme, a la Stephen Bennett. ] 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.

Think Progress has the video of McCain flushing the moderate vote away.

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More fun…Meanwhile, Rev. Tinkywinky defends his decision to invite McCain to speak at Liberty University. Love it; this can’t help McCain with moderate voters either.

Dr. Jerry Falwell is defending his decision to invite Arizona Senator John McCain to speak at Liberty University‘s spring commencement ceremony. McCain will make his first ever appearance at the Lynchburg, Virginia, school when he delivers the Christian university’s commencement address on May 13.

The invitation from Liberty Chancellor Jerry Falwell may come as a surprise to some conservatives, considering McCain’s past opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment, his support for embryonic stem-cell research, and his recent cameo appearance on the raunchy, nudity-filled movie Wedding Crashers. But Dr. Falwell said he wanted to invite a “dominant Christian leader of the free world.”

“There are several very good pro-life, pro-family candidates who are vying for the White House, and I thought I would invite one of them who’s an American hero, a military hero, who’s a U.S. Senator, and who, very frankly, is at the moment the frontrunner,” Falwell explains. “That doesn’t mean we’re endorsing Senator McCain, but it does mean we’re taking a very close look.”

According to Dr. Falwell, Senator McCain assured him during a telephone conversation earlier this week that if federal courts were to toss out state amendments protecting traditional marriage, he would be “a champion and a leader” for a Federal Marriage Amendment.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding