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Playing the Religion Card Against Nikki Haley

3:25 PM, Jun 15, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Bill Kristol reported earlier that an aide to Rep. Gresham Barrett was circulating a story on Nikki Haley's religion this morning. Ben Smith reported last week that a "source close to the campaign ... said the Barrett campaign has at least discussed playing the religion card."

The Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody posted a story today noting, accurately, that her public persona and campaign website had taken a progressively "more Christian" tone, and raising some of those questions.

But in the nasty game of South Carolina politics, in which Haley has already been accused twice publicly  of infidelity, the religion story has a clear political charge. Brody told me in an email that his story was prompted by "a tip from an anonymous source," and Tim Pearson, Haley's spokesman, said the story was "being shopped" and that Brody wasn't the only reporter to call him about it.

A source close to the campaign of one rival -- Rep. Gresham Barrett, who touts his Christian faith in his ads -- said the Barrett campaign has at least discussed playing the religion card. The source said his aides sometimes refer to her by the Indian name with which she was born, "Nimrata," in the campaign office.

"They always thought that the rel[i]gion thing would be what would save Gresham in the end against Nikki," said the source, an outside adviser to Barrett who said he was speaking to a reporter because he disliked the notion of attacking Haley on her faith.

The adviser didn't know whether Barrett's campaign had in fact pushed the story.

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