Barack Obama’s campaign has taken a turn to the right as he proposes to continue George W Bush’s program of “faith-based” initiatives and softens his promise to pull troops out of Iraq.

Obama has “tacked towards the centre on a string of issues where a matter of months ago he was to be found much further left,” writes Jonathan Freedland at The Guardian. It’s not an unusual step, but some commentators are disconcerted by the extent of some of Obama’s shifts. Even so, is Obama simply ensuring his survival where other Democrats have failed? Freedland thinks his tack changes suggest “that he is determined not to be just another principled loser — and the Democrats have had plenty of those.”

Arianna Huffington disagrees: “the Obama campaign is making a very serious mistake. Tacking to the center is a losing strategy. And don’t let the latest head-to-head poll numbers lull you the way they lulled Hillary Clinton in December. Fixating on — and pandering to — this fickle crowd is all about messaging tailored to avoid offending rather than to inspire and galvanize. And isn’t galvanizing the electorate to demand fundamental change the raison d’etre of the Obama campaign in the first place?” – RealClearPolitics

Obama attempts to cater to the evangelical crowd…

With an eye toward courting evangelical voters, Senator Barack Obama presented a plan here on Tuesday to expand on President Bush’s program of investing federal money in religious-based initiatives that are intended to fight poverty and perform community aid work. He thus embraced the heart of a program, established early in the Bush administration, that critics say blurs the constitutional separation of church and state. Mr. Obama made clear, however, that he would work to ensure that charitable groups receiving government funds be carefully monitored to prevent them from using the money to proselytize and to prevent any religion-based discrimination against potential recipients or employees. – New York Times

and backs away from lefty supporters.

Barack Obama yesterday landed a right hook on one of his biggest left-wing supporters yesterday – blasting MoveOn.org for labeling Gen. David Petraeus “General Betray Us.” Obama, in a patriotism speech in Independence, Mo., hit the Web site for taking out an ad in The New York Times last year that targeted Petraeus, then the top US commander in Iraq. – New York Post

John McCain’s campaign also gets evangelical.

Since locking up the Republican nomination in February, McCain has largely stuck to issues more palatable to moderates and swing voters, talking repeatedly about the rise in oil prices, the nation’s economy and foreign policy. But at the same time, McCain and his staff have been quietly reaching out to cultural conservatives. In Cincinnati on Thursday, McCain sat down with a half-dozen Christian leaders, many of whom were critical of him as a primary candidate. — MSNBC

Americans worry that McCain = Bush.

The results of a new Gallup poll have shown that about two thirds of Americans are concerned that McCain’s policies would be too similar to Bush’s. On the other hand, the poll suggested that about half of Americans are concerned Obama’s reforms will be too extreme. The implications, according to Gallup analyst Jeffrey M. Jones, are that “at this point, Americans seem more concerned about not getting enough change than about getting too much with the next president, which works to Obama’s benefit. McCain does have enough disagreements with Bush to perhaps make the argument that he will not represent a third Bush term seem credible. At the same time, on the major issues such as the economy and Iraq, McCain’s and Bush’s positions are essentially the same.”

Peter Fray

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