THE PLANK DECEMBER 5, 2007
Many people thought it bizarre that the Rev. Pat Robertson, a Pentecostal televangelist not known for his tolerance of others faiths, would endorse Rudy Giuliani, who is Catholic and pro-choice. But here’s an odd footnote that I discovered while doing research at the Truman Library. In 1960, the Democratic nominee, Catholic John F. Kennedy, was greeted warily, if not hostily, by some American Protestants, particularly in the South, but Virginia Democratic Senator A. Willis Robertson, the father of Pat Robertson, was the first of that state’s officeholder to endorse him. In October of that year, Robertson wrote former President Harry Truman:
On the day that Senator Kennedy made his acceptance speech in Los Angeles, I stated in a speech to the annual meeting of the Virginia Press Association that I, as always in the past, would vote the straight Democratic ticket and that statement was carried then, and frequently since then, by all the papers of the state… However, I learned during the Al Smith campaign of 1928 that when the religious issue has been injected into a campaign, public speeches against religious bigotry by those who are on the ticket do more harm than good. Therefore, I have left the making of campaign speeches in this campaign to state leaders who are not running and cannot be accused of selfish motives for urging their party loyalty.
--John B. Judis