Washington (CNSNews.com) – The 65 guests who gathered to hear a faith forum on Tuesday featuring advisers for the Barack Obama and John McCain presidential campaigns were disappointed when they learned that Obama’s adviser cancelled late Monday night by text message.
“There were 11 empty chairs,” said Peggy Birchfield, chief of staff for Faith and Action in the Nation’s Capital, the evangelical group that sponsored the Reese Roundtable event. The seating had been reserved for Rev. E. Terri LaVelle, senior adviser on Religious Affairs for Obama, and 10 others from the Obama campaign.
Robert Heckman, senior advisor to McCain, did speak at the event, Birchfield said. She added that this year’s roundtable wanted to focus on the two presidential candidates and their religious values.
“It was a way for evangelicals to be more familiar with both candidates,” Birchfield said.
In December 2007, LaVelle was named staff director of the Democratic National Committee’s Faith in Action Initiative, which the DNC Web site says was designed to “strengthen and build relationships with members of the faith community through regular outreach based on our shared values and priorities.”
"We are so glad to have Reverend LaVelle join the DNC," said Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean of LaVelle’s appointment.
"Democrats are a big tent party, and Reverend LaVelle's unique talent and proven track record of bringing people together around our shared values are critical to our ongoing effort to engage in a meaningful dialog(ue) with the faith community and reach out to Democrats everywhere as we work together for the common good," Dean said.
Birchfield said the response to Heckman was “very positive” and guests questioned him on a number of issues ranging from abortion to pro-family policies.
“They were very pleased with his answers,” Birchfield said.
Birchfield said guests included pastors, priests, congressional staffers, representatives from pro-life and pro-family groups, and the public.