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McCain Talks Faith In South Carolina

As we noted this morning, Republican presidential candidate John McCain told an Associated Press reporter over the weekend that he is Baptist, not Episcopalian. McCain has long attended a Baptist church in his home state of Arizona, but until this weekend he had publicly identified himself as Episcopalian.

Now McCain has told reporters that what ultimately matters is his overarching faith. "The most important thing is that I am a Christian," he said.

The McCain story comes on the heels of Fred Thompson's acknowledgment last week that he is not a regular churchgoer and is not comfortable talking about faith on the stump. As for the other frontrunners, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani has, by and large, not stressed his faith on the campaign trail, while former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has had to deal with a number of questions about his Mormonism, which he has not made a centerpiece of his campaign.

In fact, it has thus far fallen to the candidates with lower poll numbers to duke it out over who has the most legitimate religious bona fides. At the beginning of August, Sen. Sam Brownback's campaign accused Gov. Mike Huckabee's supporters of an "anti-Catholic whisper campaign." And along with Tom Tancredo, the pair indicated at a GOP debate in May that they do not believe in evolution. Alan Keyes, who entered the race today, is also expected to make his faith an important aspect of his campaign.

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