My good friend Dan Blatt over at Gay Patriot send me an e-mail this afternoon which I just saw a little while ago, pointing to a Washington Post article that states that Mitt Romney met with Billy Graham, and Graham for all intents and purposes endorsed him:
Graham then asked Romney what he could do to help.
“Prayer is the most helpful thing you can do for me,” Romney said. “And what you’re planning, what your son has shown me is going to be very very helpful. And I appreciate that. Its going to be terrific.”
Graham, Franklin Graham and Romney then prayed and as the meeting ended, campaign aides said that Graham told Romney: “I’ll do all I can to help you. And you can quote me on that.”
Ever since Watergate, Graham has had a policy in place of not endorsing presidential candidates (cf. this 1980 article). He came close in 2000, meeting with George W. Bush just two days before the election, but even there he restated his policy:
Graham, in Jacksonville, Fla., for an evangelistic campaign in the city’s Alltel Stadium, met with Bush for a private prayer breakfast. In posing for photographs with Bush and his wife, Laura, and his son, Franklin, Graham stated: “I don’t endorse candidates, but I’ve come as close to it as any time in my life.”
The Florida Times-Union, on its Internet site, noted: “The legendary evangelical leader, the Rev. Billy Graham, practically endorsed Bush,” whose race against Vice President Al Gore concludes with Nov. 7’s general election.
Graham, who led in prayer when Bush was inaugurated as governor of Texas, was quoted by the newspaper as saying he had already voted by absentee ballot in his home state of North Carolina. “You can guess who I voted for,” said Graham, who has acknowledged being a lifelong Democrat.
The danger, of course, is that the money quote from Graham is being repeated by Romney aides; on the other hand, I suspect the Washington Post did some verifying of its own.
What is truly telling is the language: “I’ll do all I can to help you.” That’s not a tepid endorsement or a ‘lesser of two evils’ resignation; that’s about as full-throated as Graham can get at his age. I will be interested to see if it helps some of those Evangelicals who are concerned about putting a Mormon in the White House to vote for Romney anyway. ..bruce..