John McCain and Billy Graham

Inside the McCain Campaign’s Big Foul Up.

Oops, apparently I hit a nerve. 

My NEWSMAX article on the McCain Campaign turning down a meeting between Billy Graham and Senator McCain prompted outrage from the Senator’s staff.  And then desperate calls from John McCain staffers to the Graham Association prompted clarifications from their side too.

But inconsistencies abounded.  The two couldn’t get their stories straight.  As our daddy’s explain to us when we are young, “always tell the truth and then you won’t have to remember what you said.”

If you don’t know the story, start with this link and then come back and I’ll catch you up.

Now, to get the McCain response go to the Brody File at CBN, Pat Robertson’s network, where the senior correspondent David Brody explains that “There’s a story out there that the McCain campaign has rejected a meeting with the Rev. Billy Graham.  I have just spoken with the McCain campaign and they tell me the story is ‘BOGUS. TOTALLY NOT TRUE.” .

Oh that hurt.  I’ve always liked Brody.  Now read the letter sent to Brian Jacobs, a longtime friend of the Billy Graham Organization, who just put Will Graham, Billy Graham’s grandson on the plane yesterday, to send him back to Montreat, N. C. where he runs the Cove, the Billy Graham home ministry.

Hmmm.  What did you think?  “TOTALLY NOT TRUE?”  Maybe a little more humility is in order, don’t ya think?  At the very least the letter was a mistake.

It gets better, Brody says, “The McCain campaign tells me that they have been reaching out to Billy Graham through his son, Franklin Graham. While no formal meeting has been set up, it is something they are working on. They told me that of course they want to meet with Billy Graham and hopefully that will get done soon.”


Ha.  Very interesting. 


Now, compare that to long time Graham PR guru and personal friend, Larry Ross, who issued a statement today to Mother Jones, among others, saying, “There has been no contact between the McCain campaign and his office.  In fact, Mr. Graham has not met or been in contact with any candidates during the current primary process. ”


I would think that Ross is right on this one.  It is consistent.  Hillary Clinton was apparently in Charlotte, N.C. a while back and had tried to set something up with Graham and had been turned down.


Meanwhile, Brody says of the McCain campaign, “They tell me the Graham family has been very receptive to their overtures.”

This not only contradicts Larry Ross, it is news to other senior staffers at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.  Brian Jacobs just spent two weeks with the senior staff at BGEA, including its CEO and staffers reporting directly to Franklin, as well as Billy Graham’s preacher grandson, Will Graham.  Jacobs told them that he had written the McCain team, to try to set something up for Senator McCain as he had done for Graham and George W. Bush in 2000.  “Has the Graham Association heard anything from McCain about a meeting?”


According to Jacobs, they answered, “Not a word.”  


Of course, the McCain campaign could have ended this discussion immediately.  They only needed to post their ongoing correspondence with Franklin Graham, or at least the letter where they asked for a meeting.  We had posted their letter where they said they didn’t want a meeting.  I showed you mine, you show me yours? Somehow I suspected that was not going to happen.

Usually, the big boys get their act together and give the same story.  There are certainly good reasons for both the Graham and McCain camps to be cooperating now, just as Graham would be cooperating with the Obama team. Who knows, McCain just could be president.  But then again, it could be Obama.  And Graham is the one evangelical that even the Christo-phobic John McCain can afford to be seen with.

But this time the story hit too quickly and caught everybody off guard.  The McCain team saying one thing and the Graham team, well unfortunately for McCain, telling the truth. 

Frustrated that the story might turn against them, the McCain team included some hits at Jacobs.  Brody says, that “the McCain camp also tells me that Brian Jacobs is a Fort Worth, Texas, minister and not with the Billy Graham ministry in any sort of official capacity.”  According to reporters, off the record, Ross is saying the same thing.

This is one thing that McCain and company do well, slay their own unsuspecting supporters, like people who have just endorsed them or, in this case, someone who was trying to help them.

For the record, nowhere in our story do we claim that Brian Jacobs is an employee of BGEA but he has been a friend of the Graham ministry for years.  It will be difficult for McCain or Graham to make him look like he has no connection to BGEA but hey, they made John Hagee, of all people, look like an anti-Semite.

 The story of how Brian Jacobs helped arrange a meeting between Graham and Bush in Jacksonville, Florida, the last day of the campaign in 2000 is thoroughly documented in the award winning New York Times bestseller, The Preacher and the Politicians by Michael Duffy, Assistant Managing Editor of TIME and famous cover story correspondent Nancy Gibbs.

This past May 30-June 1 Jacobs served as the Executive Vice President and CEO of a Will Graham “celebration” in Ft. Worth, Texas.  The whole Billy Graham team came in for the event.  Jacobs was trusted enough to write all the checks on the $500,000 event.  And he is slated to head up the Franklin Graham visit later in the year.

According to Brody, Tucker Bounds, a McCain spokesman said the following on the phone:

“The piece in Newsmax is false. Our campaign has been working directly with Reverend Franklin Graham’s office to facilitate an important meeting between John McCain and Reverend Billy Graham. The report’s implication that we have ‘declined to meet with Billy Graham’ is blatantly false, because our campaign has already been working directly with Franklin Graham’s office and politely declined Mr. Jacobs’ offer to help facilitate a meeting.

But a little later in the day, shockingly, David Brody had to file this complete reversal…


After assuring us that the NEWSMAX piece was false, and his story, was setting the record straight, he was forced to add this “clarification.” 


Says Brody….


“So far, Billy Graham’s office has not been directly contacted about meeting with Sen. McCain.”

(Oops.  What?  Well, were they contacted indirectly?)

“Franklin Graham did receive a message from one of Sen. McCain’s staffers several months ago saying that they were reaching out to evangelical leaders and that if Franklin Graham would like to meet with McCain that would be welcomed. This was during the primaries and Franklin did not have any follow up to that call.

“But Franklin said he would now be willing to meet with Sen. McCain or Sen. Obama.” LOL.

Meanwhile, thanks to Franklin Graham’s honesty, our original NEWSMAX piece stands.  And it has needed no “clarifications,” in spite of powers weighing in with their demands to pull it down and the self righteous charges of “false stories” flying back and forth.  If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said. 


None of this disqualifies John McCain.  We evangelicals may still all vote for him come November anyway.  We want to. But his staff and the lap dog evangelical ministries who parade as journalists and repeat without question his propaganda, certainly took a “strike one” this time at bat.


Published by Doug Wead

Doug Wead is a New York Times bestselling author whose latest book, Game of Thorns, is about the Trump-Clinton 2016 election. He served as an adviser to two American presidents and was a special assistant to the president in the George H.W. Bush White House.

4 thoughts on “John McCain and Billy Graham

  1. I guess I don’t understand why Brody keeps referring to this as a “false story.” The documentation is there. Do we need media persons falling on their faces to back up lies? I think the politicians have black belts in that already, and do not need help from reporters.

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