Monday, January 14, 2008


Your missionary to Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, Rob Schenck, reporting:

My feet are on Capitol Hill again after a quick jaunt to Michigan last week. I met many Republican leaders in the state. (While I was in New Hampshire the week before I talked mainly with Democrat Party leadership.) At one Republican function, anyone attending could have mistaken it for a church banquet. A state legislator opened in prayer—and I mean PRAYER—telling the attendees he was there to serve the people of his state, the members of his party and his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Mitt Romney was the only top-tier candidate making the rounds while I was there. I had met and talked with him before, so I didn’t even try this time. The frenetic schedules these candidates keep is exhausting just to watch, let alone try to engage. But I did do one mitzvah (a Jewish term for "good deed"). At the dinner function, I was milling around a private reception when I struck up a conversation with a diminutive grandma who was dressed to the nines. (Never mind that her sequined two-piece was probably from J.C. Penney and not Saks!) Anyway, she stood anxiously holding a Romney sign, furtively looking into the hallway. I asked if she expected to meet the governor.

“Oh, yes,” she said with little girl coquetishness. “I waited three hours in a restaurant the last time he was in town, but they changed his schedule and he never came. I was so disappointed.” She told me she wanted the photo to show to her 25 grandchildren and 27 great grandchildren--noting there were five more on the way--and she wasn’t even Mormon! I had to make this my cause for the evening.

“Tonight’s your night,” I assured her. “You’ll get your photo with the Governor if there’s anything I can do about it.”

When I talked to Governor Romney’s state campaign director, she flatly ruled it out. “He’s not doing any photos tonight,” she pronounced—and there was no route of appeal!

Undaunted, I looked for a window of opportunity. When Governor Romney arrived, he was immediately whisked into a side room off the dining area for a news conference. By now the reception guests had filtered into the main hall to take their dinner seats. It was a sea of people. I prayed, “Lord, if you mean for me to do this mitvah for this precious lady, you will have to help me find her.” With that, I looked out over the crowded room and the first person I saw standing was Grandma! I dashed over to her, took her by the hand and barked, “If you want your photo, come with me now!” She excitedly squealed, “I can still run!” and off we trotted.

Governor Romney was just concluding his remarks to reporters when we reached the side room. A secret service agent blocked the door and asked what we wanted. I said, “Grandma here just wants a photo for her 25 grandchildren and 27 great grandchildren."

“Well, you don’t look like much of a threat,” the agent teased, beckoning her closer.

When the Governor and his wife, Ann, turned to leave the room, I made sure I was the first in position as they exited. I extended my hand to Ann first. They both recognized me from our previous meetings, but there was no time for chit-chat.

“Ann, Governor, this little lady would love a photo for her 25 grandchildren and 27 great grandchildren.” I pulled her toward me. The Romney's graciously and immediately indulged us. I waved down the official photographer and Grandma got her prized picture. It was my greatest accomplishment yet in these campaigns!

Someone came up to me after Romney received a standing ovation for his keynote address and asked, “Did you get face time earlier with the Governor?” I simply said, “Yes, and we got a lot accomplished.”

On the official end, as you probably know, Romney and McCain are in a dead heat in Michigan with Huckabee trailing by ten points. I do want to note that Governor Huckabee has indeed been adding a good amount of substantive content to his stump speeches. That’s good and necessary in order to be judged as a truly viable candidate in the general election. Still, he remains weak on defense and international policy. It goes without saying he is the only Evangelical in the race and therefore commands strong backing from churches, pastors and conservative Christian groups. No major Christian leader has yet to explicitly endorse him, though, indicating some measure of doubt as to his platform, record and / or whether he is electable. We’ll watch and see.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, political warfare has ignited as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama duke it out for first place. I still don’t see how the party machinery will ever give it up to a neophyte like Obama, but stranger things have happened. We will watch and pray!

Don’t miss my Faith and Action Live! field report this Wednesday. We’ll score the candidates on the major moral issues: Sanctity of Life, Marriage and the Family and the Public Acknowledgement of God. You’ll find a link at our website. Lots to more to talk about!

Your grateful missionary to elected and appointed officials,

Rev. Rob Schenck
Faith and Action
109 2nd St., NE, Washington, DC 20002