While much attention will be on Rudolph Giuliani at tonight’s GOP debate, the death of Jerry Falwell also will have candidates choosing their words carefully should they decide to pay tribute to him in any way.
The more moderate ’08 contenders will walk a tightrope in appealing to the party’s religious base and at the same time look like they support, in any way, Falwell’s most polarizing positions — i.e. past support of aparthied or criticism of figures like Martin Luther King Jr. Those views are going to be highlighted over the next few days as the news media and blogsphere examine his career and legacy.
So far, candidates are offering very general condolences. Here’s what John McCain said, via The Politico:
“I join the students, faculty, and staff of Liberty University and Americans of all faiths in mourning the loss of Reverend Jerry Falwell. Dr. Falwell was a man of distinguished accomplishment who devoted his life to serving his faith and country.”