Candidates Target Evangelical Voters

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CBNNews.com -- TAYLOR, Mich. -- Could Barack Obama's views on abortion be a deal breaker with Christian voters?

The Democratic Presidential candidate tells CBN News while that may be the case, he still believes there's enough common ground to appeal to evangelicals across the country.

For more on the issue of politics and religion, click play to watch Dr. Charles Dunn, dean of Regen University School of Government.

Evangelicals. They pray together, worship together and in many cases, vote together. In recent elections, they've flocked to the Republican Party. Sen. Barack Obama and his campaign want to change that.

How? By opening the door to Christian leaders in a way not normally or at least, recently chosen by Democrats.

"The truth of the matter is that I've been in a conversation with pastors since I moved to Chicago," Obama said. "I think they are a force for good and can do great things in the community. Not all the changes we need in this country are going to be brought about because of a government program."

Obama's Issues

His outreach team is targeting young evangelical and Catholic voters from across the political spectrum. And the presumptive nominee met face to face with religious leaders including Franklin Graham and Max Lucado.

"I opened up the meeting by quoting Ronald Reagan which was saying, I know you can't endorse me, but I endorse you," Obama said. "I endorse the good works that are being done, the wonderful ministries that are taking place all across the country and my goal here is just to have a dialogue to listen, to learn, to share my faith journey and I think people came out of it, not necessarily agreeing with me on every issue, but I think that they recognized that I respected them."

Some of those issues could cause problems come November. On abortion, Obama is pro-choice. He is in favor of civil unions and his association with his former pastor the Reverend Jeremiah Wright hit a negative note.

"I think on some issues I would be considered left of the spectrum, there's no doubt. That's something, that for some, and I respect this, is a deal breaker," Obama said.

"None of these folks may vote for me, but I want them to know that there's a possibility of me working with them to advance common goals, like reducing teen pregnancies, or making sure that we're dealing with the homeless population or dealing with the tragedy of Darfur," he daid.

McCain's Issues

And that's the plan -- find common ground, listen and boost evangelical turnout.

Could that hurt senator John McCain? The so-called "maverick" Republican appears to be working to attract Independents. Yet McCain's top advisor tells CBN News McCain is there for evangelicals.

"He has met with a lot of evangelical leaders and groups and continues to reach out to them. I think a lot of the leadership of the very diverse evangelical organizations is now fully supporting him," Charlie Black said.

McCain has a proven track record on issues like the war on terror, and abortion. But trying to appeal to both groups of voters is a delicate balancing act.

"I think he says to evangelicals and other conservatives, I might not be with you on every single issue, but when he tells them something - they can believe it," black said.

But McCain has some negatives that don't sit well with evangelical voters. He doesn't support a federal marriage amendment. He is in favor of federal funded embryonic stem cell research and he hasn't openly shared his faith walk with voters.

McCain recently turned down an invitation to appear at the Southern Baptist Convention and that coupled with the Pastor John Hagee controversy have some evangelicals scratching their heads. It's a new religious landscape and both sides know it.

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