Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pastor Rick Warren discusses Obama with Wolf Blitzer

Recently, Pastor Rick Warren annoyed several conservatives and evangelicals when he invited Sen. Barack Obama to an AIDS conference. On Dec. 15, he was a guest on CNN's "The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer. This is their discussion about Obama.
BLITZER: A good time of the year to have a serious discussion on a lot of the issues that are in the forefront for you. You caused a bit of a stir recently by inviting Barack Obama to your church to speak out on some of the sensitive issues of the day. You were criticized by some evangelicals because he supports abortion rights, gay rights. What's your response to that?

WARREN: Well, you know, if you can only work with people you agree with 100 percent, you've ruled out the entire world, because I can't even get my wife to agree with me all the time. So you're going to have to work with people who have differences from you. And we had 60 speakers at this conference on AIDS, and Barack Obama was there, but so was Sam Brownback, Bill Frist, first lady Laura Bush, Bill Gates, Bono. There was a lot of people.

BLITZER: What did you think of Barack Obama?

WARREN: He's an amazing man. I think...

BLITZER: Do you think he's got it? In other words, he's got that potential like so many other presidential prospects, to be the president of the United States?

WARREN: I think he does.

BLITZER: Because?

WARREN: I think he has good character. I think both Sam Brownback and Barack Obama -- the reason I invited them both, first, they'll tell you the truth. They're not just going to beat around the bush. They'll tell you what they believe. And I appreciate that.

Second, they're men of civility. And I'm so tired of the rudeness we've got in our society where people are just mean to each other. We need to return to civility, which says, I treat you with respect even if I violently disagree with you. That we've lost the "civil" in civilization.

BLITZER: Are the American people ready for an African-American president?

WARREN: Oh, I think so.

BLITZER: Your congregants, what are you hearing?

WARREN: Well, I think that America's ready for leadership any time. I think Sam Brownback, who was there, I think Barack Obama, I think there's a lot of people in the field who are good leaders who could easily lead America with -- because they're clear.

BLITZER: Let me read to you what David Van Biema, writer for "TIME" magazine wrote.

"The invitation works perfectly for Obama. Through his autobiography 'The Audacity of Hope' and his public statements, the senator had already positioned himself as one of the rare potential Democratic presidential candidates who can truly talk the Christian talk."

Can he?

WARREN: Talking the Christian talk is not nearly as important as being a person of character. And I think that in the -- in this next election people are tired of partisanship.

I think whoever is going to get elected is going to be somebody who has the ability to draw people from different sides, even people who disagree with you, and say, let's work on the greater good. Let's work on the common good of our society rather than narrow casting, rather than saying I'm appealing to simply a base. I think base politics is out of date.

BLITZER: Here's what one of your critics who didn't like the fact you invited him because of his support for abortion said this, Wiley Drake, second vice president, Southern Baptist Convention.

"You can't work together with people totally opposed to what you are. This kind of conference is just going to lead people astray."

WARREN: Well, I disagree.

BLITZER: So you're ready to reach out and work with people who have different...

WARREN: We will work with anybody...
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