Response from Billy Graham (and John McCain)

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I called Billy Graham’s PR shop re: this and they read me this statement from Larry Ross, director of media and public relations for Billy Graham.

“It would be highly unusual and out of character for Mr. Graham to initiate such a meeting, and 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. If he had, it has been his personal policy through the years to avoid partisanship by meeting with representatives from both parties to address spiritual concerns.”

Thus, if Graham meets with any candidate, he will meet with all of them.

“Upon further inquiry I understand that two people unaffiliated with either Billy or Franklin Graham apparently independently, without any knowledge by the [Billy Graham Evangelistic Association], tried to broker a meeting between Mr. McCain and the evangelist. Apparently it was their indirect and unofficial involvement that was declined.”

In other words, McCain didn’t turn down a meeting with Billy Graham. He turned down a meeting brokered by Doug Wead and Brian Jacobs.

Update: The McCain has responded elsewhere:

“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. John McCain has the highest respect for Reverend Billy Graham and looks forward to meeting with him in the future.”

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