Ralph Reed photo by Robin Nelson dios in Colorado, Dobson urges Bennett to run for president. “I sense that God may be calling you,” Dobson says. When Bennett later announced that he could support a Colin Powell presidential candidacy, even if Powell wasn’t “pro-life;’ Dobson and God changed their position. Dobson used his radio program to attack Bennett as a “sellout” to the Christian cause and urged evangelical leaders to find a presidential candidate who would do their bidding. “They would find their man in George W. Bush:’ writes Kuo. At Empower America, the advocacy group founded by Bennett and former U.S. Sen. Jack Kemp, Kuo and Mike Gerson perfect the craft of writing evangelical Christian subtext into political speeches. Gerson would serve as Bush’s White House speechwriter for almost six years. Kuo, whose mother worried about his drift toward evangelical Christianity, makes it to the majors by reaching into the Old Testament to sell Kemp to the Southern Baptist Convention. In 14 words written by Kuo, Kemp told 10,000 Baptist ministers gathered for their annual convention all they would need to know. “A politician among pastors:’ said Kemp, who is usually uncomfortable with public pronunciations of his faith. “I feel like a lion in a den of Daniels?’ Kuo’s speechwriting attracted the attention of Bush political adviser Karl Rove, who invited Kuo to Austin to meet Bush early in his first presidential campaign. Rove was determined to convince evangelicals that Bush was one of them, without scaring away secular voters. Kuo’s “lion in a den of Daniels” represented a mtier Rove knew would work for his candidate. In a fast-paced book rich in anecdotal detail, it’s easy to overlook Kuo’s vivid recollection of his first meeting with Bush. In 1999 Bush has political power figured out. He knows what it means to run for the presidency. He knows what it means to win. He’s seen it all up close. He learned it from the old man. “He had a lot of political capital after Iraq. He didn’t use it,” Bush tells Kuo. “You’ve got to use it up and use it up for something that matters … [T]he old man had a problem with the vision thing. Never used his political capital on political matters after the Gulf War. I would never make that mistake. I believe in the vision thing.” Bush isn’t yet sure he will run for president, even though he has a campaign operation in place. That, he tells Kuo, is something “he would have to hear from God.” If God had not yet made his decision, for Kuo it was love at first sight: “Bush was the real deal. He loved Jesus. He wanted to help the poor. He was the embodiment of the Christian political statesman I had dreamed of finding and dreamed of being … I got up, floated back to my car, and headed toward Texas A&M University, a few hours away. I was in love:’ JANUARY 12, 2007 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15
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