In search of vice presidential running mates, presidential candidates are expected to carefully vet their choice. One would think those same candidates would be as careful about high-profile preachers and their backgrounds and words.
Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain have already slipped up on the preacher side. They have both been embarrassed by the support of preachers who have gone far over the line from the pulpit and beyond.
McCain is the latest to suffer humiliation. The Rev. John Hagee of San Antonio has stepped over the bounds of propriety not once but twice. His support was sought by the presumptive GOP nominee long before his rants were made public.
A search of Hagee's sermons found that he said God had sent Hitler to deliver Jews to the Promised Land. That was too much for McCain, and he denounced his words and disavowed his endorsement.
Earlier, Hagee had made disparaging remarks about the Roman Catholic Church that McCain disavowed. But he said he couldn't be responsible for everything a supporter might say.
Obama was put to the test, and failed at first, on fiery words said by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his pastor in Chicago. Wright damned America for its treatment of African-Americans during the nation's history. Obama separated himself from those words but not his pastor. He was ripped by Republicans and their pundit allies in the media.
Wright compounded the problem with some ridiculous comments during a speech at the National Press Club. He seemed to be enjoying his time in the limelight. Obama finally freed himself from his ties to the preacher.
McCain claims his situation is unlike Obama's because Wright is his rival's pastor. That is truly disingenuous even for a politician. McCain knows better but is trying to keep an issue alive against Obama.
Both candidates are already looking over a large field of potential running mates for November. Have they learned a lesson with Hagee and Wright?
Voters in both parties should hope so since both candidates have looked rather foolish on their preacher issue.