Catholic V. Protestant In Iowa?

One of the less publicized, most salient change in politics since the 1980s has been the political coalition built by conservative Catholics and evangelicals even as the doctrinally-sensitive Southern Baptist Convention became the dominant force in evangelical politics. The '04 re-election of George W. Bush showed how powerful that coalition can be.

Will it endure? Sam Brownback is a Catholic convert, Mike Huckabee is a Southern Baptist, and Mitt Romney is a member of the LDS Church. There have been skirmishes so far between supporters of Brownback and Huckabee on one side and Romney on the other. But until this week, the fact that Brownback is a Catholic (convert) and Huckabee is a Protestant hasn't been deemed relevant by anyone.

The following e-mail was sent to a number of Iowa evangelicals. The author is Rev. Tim Rude, a pastor at the Walnut Creek Community Church in Windsor Heights, Iowa.

Here's the full text of his e-mail:
Dear XXX and XXX,
> Pastors XXX and XXX relayed to me that you are both supporting Sam
> Brownback for President. It sounds like there is, in fact, regular
> contact with Senator Brownback and yourselves. I applaud your
> participation in the selection of the next president of the United
> States. It is our duty as Christians to take our stewardship of
> this country extremely serious. And I am sure that you are aware
> that our entire Walnut Creek leadership staff, to my knowledge, is
> supporting Mike Huckabee.
> On July 20, we drove up to Ames and spoke with pastors XXX and XXX
> about our position and were well received. However, it sounds like
> you are the men we need to communicate with about our advocacy.
> I am interested in your decision to support this candidate. As you
> know, both candidates are down in the polls. Nation-wide polls
> show Brownback at 1% and Huckabee at 3% amongst Republican candidates.
> About 3 weeks ago, I met the Governor personally. I learned that
> he was a Southern Baptist pastor for 12 years. The Governor told
> us that he concluded that people needed to gain positions in the
> government in order to safeguard our Christian values. People need
> to make that sacrifice. He served as LT. Governor prior to serving
> as governor for 10 and a half years.
> The second time he ran for Gov. he gained over 48% of the black
> vote. That is remarkable and it conveys he can really broaden his
> base. I think he is electable. He is a remarkable communicator.
> I believe as people listen to him, just like in Arkansas, they will
> like what he says and like him personally. I have listened to him
> in private and over the radio. He is the best communicator I have
> ever heard run for office. President Reagan was a great
> communicator but he did not as closely represent a Christian
> perspective as does Huckabee, although Reagan did a very good job.
> Huckabee is an evangelical. He has not learned how to speak to
> evangelicals; i.e. Bush 41 & 43. He is one of us. I know
> Senator Brownback converted to Roman Catholicism in 2002. Frankly,
> as a recovering Catholic myself, that is all I need to know about
> his discernment when compared to the Governor's. I don't if this
> fact is widely known among evangelicals who are supporting Brownback.
> The one criticism of Huckabee is that he raised taxes in Arkansas.
> First of all, is that he had to raise money to meet some Federally
> imposed funding initiatives. When he took office, Arkansas was
> 47th ranked state in education. When he left office, they were
> 23rd rank. The roads were in horrible shape in the aftermath of
> the Clintons. He raised money for them. This is a
> constitutionally sanctioned responsibility of government. He cut
> taxes 86 times in Arkansas. He left with a budget surplus that was
> significant. He also left office with an 86% approval rating. He
> can build consensus even in a primarily Democratic state.
> Michael Ferris of the Home School Legal Defense Association
> enthusiastically endorses him as does the former Promise Keeper
> magazine New Man.
> There is much more to say. Like you, we are trying to make a 1st
> or 2nd place showing in the Iowa Straw Poll to give our candidates
> a boost and viability. Money and media attention would be gained to
> the winners. All Huckabee needs is exposure in my opinion. The
> money will come and will the volunteers. I would ask you to
> reconsider your support of Senator Brownback; and lead your people
> in not splitting the Christian vote among the two candidates. I
> have been impressed with the pastors across the Greater Des Moines
> area switching their support or giving their support for the
> Governor. We are in Iowa for 'such a time as this'.
> XXX church is trying to gain 1000 votes of people who were not
> planning on going to the Iowa Straw Poll from our efforts alone.
> Would you join us in accomplishing this goal?
> Brownback is a good man but there is a better candidate in my
> opinion. One that will gain momentum as he is heard. The Gov. is
> of true presidential character.
> Well, I thought I would give this a shot. I know it is hard to
> change horses in the middle of the stream but I know you will
> prayerfully consider what I have to say.
> Your brother and friend,

Update: Pastor Rude has apologized.