Obama Just Wants Evangelicals Not to Fear Him

Reassuring those unlikely to vote for him will cool opposition, could win over undecideds
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2008 2:47 PM CDT
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., waves as he finishes speaking at the Apostolic Church of God service.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama’s plan to cut the Democrats' evangelical deficit (68%-30% in 2000, 78-21% in '04)? Convince the religious right he’s not the devil. That’s a “radically different” course from the one taken by John Kerry and Al Gore, what Jeff Greenfield, on Slate, calls a “reassurance strategy”—“in effect, ‘OK, don’t vote for me; but you have nothing to fear from me.’”

Indeed, religious leaders come out of meetings with Obama surprised the candidate’s not a “crazy leftist” and no longer ready to work to beat him. A strategy used by JFK and Reagan, among others, "takes the opposition as a given and then tries to lower its intensity," Greenfield writes—and could give him a boost with voters more likely to be swayed by reassuring tones.