McCain gets help from Brownback to lure Catholics

Just days before the first major tests of the presidential race, Republican contender John McCain has enlisted U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback to try to win Catholic voters.

Brownback, a Republican from Kansas, along with former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, are serving as co-chairmen of Catholics for McCain.

“As Catholics, we are proud to announce our support for John McCain, a genuine American hero with a conservative record who has what it takes to lead this country,” Brownback said in a statement.

The move is seen as an attempt by McCain to lure Christian conservatives, who are expected to make up a sizable chunk of Republican caucusgoers on Thursday in Iowa.

So far, most Iowa evangelicals seem to be in the camps of Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and a Southern Baptist minister, and Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts.

But five days after the Iowa caucus is the New Hampshire primary, where recent polling shows that McCain and Romney are in a dead heat.

McCain has been viewed suspiciously by some evangelicals since his unsuccessful run for the White House in 2000, when he criticized Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as “agents of intolerance.”

But during this year’s campaigning, McCain has tried to woo conservatives.

On his Web site, McCain said he believes the 1979 Roe v. Wade decision, which gives women the right to have an abortion, should be overturned, “returning the abortion question to the individual states.”

Brownback dropped out of the GOP presidential field in October after his campaign failed to catch fire. When he entered the race he was thought to be the top candidate of conservative Christians, but Huckabee stole his thunder.