WASHINGTON Sen. Sam Brownbacks presidential campaign isn't satisfied with Republican contender Mike Huckabee's recent statement, saying it does not directly denounce anti-Catholicism.
"Why is Governor Huckabee hesitating to denounce the anti-Catholic comments from his supporter, Pastor Tim Rude? It is hard to imagine that Governor Huckabee thinks Pastor Tim Rude's prejudiced tactics are acceptable," said John Rankin, Iowa communications director of Brownback for President.
Rude, a pastor at Walnut Creek Community Church in Windsor Heights, had recently sent an e-mail to a number of Iowa evangelicals asking them to reconsider their support for Brownback, a Catholic, and to back Huckabee, who Rude wrote is "one of us (an evangelical)."
Huckabee is an ordained Baptist minister.
"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, Rude stated.
"[L]ead your people in not splitting the Christian vote among the two candidates. Brownback is a good man but there is a better candidate in my opinion."
Brownback, who recently met with evangelical pastors in Iowa with hopes for a strong finish in the Aug. 11 straw poll, called on Huckabee through a spokesman to apologize for and denounce the "prejudiced whisper campaign."
"Political campaigns should focus on the issues that Americans care about, not make bigoted slurs aimed at a person's faith and character," said Rankin.
Rude did not expect the private e-mail to become public and issued an apology while defending that his comments were not actually anti-Catholic.
"But I do apologize for my statements because it could be taken as anti-Catholic which isn't the case at all," said Rude.
Soon thereafter, Huckabee released a statement saying he is "glad" that Rude issued an apology and clarification for his remarks. While grateful for the support, Huckabee said the comments were not authorized by, disseminated by, approved by, or condoned by the campaign.
"I consider Sam Brownback a Christian brother and know that he feels likewise toward me," said Huckabee. "Like Senator Brownback, several key members of my staff are Roman Catholic. As believers, we don't have time to fight each other. We need to focus on having a servant's spirit and bringing hope to those who have given up."
The Brownback for President campaign, however, again called Huckabee on Wednesday to denounce the contents of the "anti-Catholic e-mail," saying they do not consider Huckabee's statement an apology.
Leading up to the straw poll, which could boost the campaigns of both Brownback and Huckabee, the two remain low in polls against leading Republican candidates. But recent surveys revealed that the two presidential hopefuls are becoming more widely known by the American public. Evangelicals expressing support for Brownback and those backing Huckabee say more people just need to know about them.