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by TED S. McGREGOR JR. & r & & r & Whose Hearts and Minds? & r & & r & After locking up the GOP nomination, John McCain has started wooing those skeptical parts of the Republican base. He stopped by the White House to accept George W. Bush's endorsement, but his Feb. 27 stop in San Antonio is causing him more trouble.





That day, he won the endorsement of John Hagee, the pastor of the Cornerstone megachurch with about 20,000 members. (He's on TV, too, with worldwide viewership estimated in the millions.) But in so doing, he may have alienated the nation's biggest megachurch -- the 70 million strong Roman Catholic Church. Hagee's not a fan, and he has called the Catholic Church a "theology of hate." Hagee has other quaint ideas, too, about Hurricane Katrina (caused by a gay pride parade), Harry Potter (a gateway to the satanic arts) and women (according to the book God's Profits, he once joked, "Do you know the difference between a terrorist and a woman with PMS? You can negotiate with a terrorist.") Oh, and he's really looking forward to Armageddon, too.





McCain said he was "very proud" of Hagee, but by Friday, March 7, under pressure from the Catholic League, he was back-pedaling, saying, "I repudiate any comments that are made, including Pastor Hagee's, if they are anti-Catholic or offensive to Catholics."





But unlike Barack Obama, who "rejected" and "denounced" the endorsement of Louis Farrakhan -- an endorsement he never sought -- McCain is not denouncing Hagee, just his comments.





Good luck holding that base together!





The Coattail Effect


Washington and Oregon have become reliably blue states of late, but a new poll suggests they might not stay that way if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee. New statewide polls from SurveyUSA say the Northwest likes John McCain. In a matchup with Clinton, SurveyUSA says McCain would win Washington (46 percent to 44 percent) and Oregon (48 percent to 43 percent). If, however, McCain faces Barack Obama, both states stay blue -- Washington by 53 percent for Obama to 38 percent for McCain and Oregon by 49 percent to 41 percent.





As Knute Berger points out on Crosscut.com, the big impact is down the ticket. If Clinton is the nominee, and McCain runs strong in independent-minded Washington, that could be a big boost for Dino Rossi as he seeks to unseat Chris Gregoire.
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