The election forum with Pastor Rick Warren represented an opportunity for Obama to emphasize his Christian beliefs, according to Prof. Pitney in the Palm Beach Post:
Obama’s faith became an issue during the Democratic primaries amid the controversy over the anti-American statements of his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. But even though the controversy highlighted Obama’s Christian faith, polls have shown that nearly two in 10 Americans believe he is a Muslim.
And that may the best reason for Obama to participate in tonight’s forum, said John Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College in California.
“The evangelical vote heavily favors McCain,” Pitney said in an exchange of e-mails this week. “But by appearing at such an event, Obama will cool some of the opposition. They won’t vote for him, but they might not go all-out to beat him, either. But the event also gives him an opportunity to address one of his ongoing problems. By talking about his Christian faith, he is telling Americans: NO, I AM NOT A MUSLIM!”