Barack Obama dusted off a Ronald Reagan line from the past at his recent meeting with religious leaders in Chicago. In a 1980 convention of Evangelical Ministers Reagan once famously said, "I know you can't endorse me, but I endorse you."
Well, we now have the 2008 version, Obama style.
In my one on one interview with Barack Obama near Detroit Tuesday afternoon Obama went into detail about that remarkable meeting he held with conservative, moderate and progressive religious leaders. Read the transcription below. Click play to watch the video.
Obama: It was a terrific meeting. I was so grateful that these religious leaders were willing to gather together very prominent from all across the country a wide ideological spectrum. I mean, you had, individuals like the head of the UCC Church, obviously a very progressive wing of Christianity. You had Franklin Graham there.
Brody: How did that go?
Obama: Well, what was good was that I think everybody had a respectful conversation. I opened up the meeting by quoting Ronald Reagan which was saying, I know you can't endorse me, but I endorse you. 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, I respected their faith, I respected what they're trying to achieve. And hopefully they came away feeling the same about me and my pledge was that this is a dialogue that will continue after I'm President of the Untied States.
Brody: And there is an acknowledgement that John McCain may have some issues with evangelicals.
Obama: Well, so much of the political dialogue is perceived as an entirely tactical. You know, John McCain is going to try to peel off women, or I'm going to try and peel of evangelicals. The truth of the matter is that I've been in a conversation with pastors since I moved to Chicago and started working as a community organizer. I think they are a force for good and can do great things in the community and I think not all the changes we need in this country are going to be brought about because of a government program. And so I want to be involved in a dialogue. 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. Those are all issues where I think we can come together, and that's what I want to focus on.