As I recall, McCain’s campaign was down, but not “doomed,” when he savaged Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson … but that attack probably sealed his fate with GOP primary voters. Even though I’m a religious conservative, I’ve always felt bad for him regarding that ill-advised speech. He shouldn’t have attacked Falwell as well as Robertson; if memory serves, Falwell hadn’t made an issue of McCain. Robertson had, and played very dirty pool down in South Carolina. I was down there covering that primary, and the kind of stuff Robertson and his Christian Coalition pulled down there in an attempt to defeat McCain was sickening.
There was the Bob Jones University professor who spread the rumor, via Internet, that McCain had fathered a black child (N.B., the McCains had adopted a Bangladeshi child). A CNN reporter tracked the Internet rumor to him, and asked him what proof he had for that charge. The professor wanted to know what proof the reporter had that it wasn’t true. I spoke to a former senior South Carolina state official and Christian Coalition member who told me he was personally threatened by Pat Robertson that if he endorsed McCain, he (the official) would be ruined by Robertson. There was lots of that sort of thing going on. No wonder McCain lost his temper at these politically cutthroat followers of Christ.