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Gresham Barrett Aide Pushes Story On Nikki Haley's Religious Views

Over the line?

12:15 PM, Jun 15, 2010 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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CNN published a story at 9:25 a.m. this morning titled "Haley's path to Christianity leaves some evangelicals uneasy." The story informs readers that Nikki Haley, who was raised a Sikh and converted to Christianity, "still attends Sikh services occasionally with her parents and extended family." It’s clearly a trouble-making attempt to gin up controversy among Republicans where there has been almost none, and so was able to find a couple of pastors who question whether Haley, the frontrunner in next Tuesday's South Carolina gubernatorial primary runoff, is really a Christian.

Gresham Barrett Aide Pushes Story On Nikki Haley's Religious Views

At 9:38 a.m., the CNN story was emailed to a colleague by a campaign consultant working for Haley's opponent, Rep. Gresham Barrett.

One strongly suspects this attempt to take the low road won’t work, and Haley will crush Barrett in the runoff next week. But does Gresham Barrett, who has had a good reputation and would seem to have a promising political career still ahead of him, really want to go down this path?

When Barrett refused to concede to Haley after the first round in which he trailed Haley, 49% to 22%, I privately asked people close to Barrett whether he was going to run a scorched-earth campaign for the runoff. I was told not to worry, he just wanted to let the process play out, and of course he wasn’t going to play into the hands of the left by engaging in personal or religious smears of Haley. Then the day after the primary, Barrett released an ad in which he is described as a "Christian family man." Some suggested this was an underhanded attack on Nikki Haley's religion, while others thought the "Christian family man" line may have been simply an attempt to distinguish himself from the adulterous Gov. Sanford (but why then “Christian?”). With the campaign now circulating a story on Haley's faith, one's worst suspicions appear to be confirmed.

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