Obama campaign backs out of clergy forum without explanation
I received the following press release this morning:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 24 /Christian Newswire/ — A top-level advisor and ten-member delegation for Sen. Barack Obama were no- shows at yesterday’s Reese RoundTable on Capitol Hill, a forum for the campaigns to present their respective candidates’ worldviews and how that informs their ideas about government.
The Obama representative, the Reverend Evna Terri La Velle, Senior Advisor Religious Affairs for Obama for America, inexplicably cancelled only hours before the event. When event organizers appealed to Democratic Party Officials, they were told someone would “look into it,” but that these decisions are made in Chicago, meaning Obama campaign headquarters.
Event host, Rev. Rob Schenck, who moderated the discussion, said he was profoundly disappointed. He released this statement:
“Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean assured me last year in a private meeting in his office that his party would do everything possible to constructively engage Evangelicals, traditional Catholics and other moral conservatives. He even pledged to participate in events like this. Barack Obama has made similar promises. They did a couple of high-profile media events, but it appears they were not serious at a grass- roots level. Yesterday’s last-minute unexplained cancellation was nothing short of a snub. Our capacity crowd was insulted by their absence.”
I called National Clergy Council chief of staff, Peggy Birchfield who said John McCain’s campaign sent Robert Heckman, Senior Advisor. Birchfield said that Obama representative, Rev. La Velle, confirmed her attendance on Monday but backed out via text message the day of the event.
The forum went on anyway with 75 people in attendance, including some Obama supporters who left early, according to Birchfield. The audience was made up of local clergy, congressional staffers and members of the media. The forum was videotaped and is scheduled to be available of the organization’s website later today.