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Barack Obama takes a page from the Bush Administration playbook

July 1, 2008 |  2:23 pm

While John McCain was jetting south, Barack Obama went to Ohio today and chatted up his belief in the Bush Administration's faith-based initiative. Our colleagues at Countdown to Crawford delve into it here.

The unusual thing is that Obama has made a point of saying a first McCain term would be little more than a third Bush term, but then he goes and gloms onto a signature issue of the Bush years (admittedly of less note than some other issues from the Bush years).

And Obama accented his support for the prBarack_obama_embraces_bush_admini_2ogram in a session with reporters, with our colleague Peter Nicholas in the scrum. Obama was asked whether he would elevate the faith-based initiative to the cabinet level:

"I want this to be central to our White House mission. Just as I want a White House office on poverty to be -- which I've already discussed previously, and urban policy -- to be part of high level discussion in the White House.

"So whether we're actually creating a new cabinet position or we're simply making sure this person has a direct line to me and is working with all the cabinet officers to coordinate faith-based initiatives, we'll figure out the organization as we move forward in the context of our overall White House organization. But the important principle is that using the talents and the gifts of the kinds of folks who are here at Eastside Community Ministries -- their passion and commitment to empower the community -- making sure they can compete for the resources that are made available by the federal government to reduce poverty or help children or feed the hungry or house the homeless -– that we are getting those resources on the ground so that the people who are closest to those in need are able to access them. That is going to be a central principle of our administration.''

McCain addressed the issue in an interview in April, saying that he believed Bush's faith-based initiatives had "done very well," our colleague Maeve Reston reports. But he said he was less glowing, saying he would assess the program's effectiveness before making any decision on changes to it. But McCain cited the faith-based response to Katrina as particularly note-worthy:

"They didn’t get a heck of a lot of government help, but they got some government help, and some of the people that I talked to in those neighborhoods said they [the groups] were very effective in helping the people of New Orleans restore their daily lives."

"So I think there’s many examples of where faith-based organizations have been very successful," McCain continued. "There are times when they haven't -– so you learn the lessons. But I think the overall experiment has probably been good for America."

--Scott Martelle

Photo credit: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press