What happened
Many evangelicals and other conservative Christians remain skeptical about John McCain despite regular e-mails and other outreach efforts by his presidential campaign. Lori Viars, an evangelical activist in Ohio, said she is waiting to see whether McCain uses his choice of a running mate to ease concerns among social conservatives about his views on abortion and other social issues. “A lot of us are in a holding pattern,” Viars said. (The New York Times)

What the commentators said
McCain needs to drum up more enthusiasm from many parts of the Republican coalition, said Robert Novak in the Chicago Sun-Times, but his “need for the evangelicals is most crucial.” Christian conservatives “have been indispensable for Republican presidential candidates” since they helped put Ronald Reagan in the White House in 1980. But McCain has failed to talk out his differences with the powerful James Dobson of Focus on the Family, and his disavowal of popular televangelist Rev. John Hagee over Hagee’s statements on Catholics and Jews didn’t help.

Maybe distancing himself from Hagee won over some moderates, said Deal W. Hudson in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. But “the fact is, McCain's moderates can't beat Obama's adoring groupies.” Moderates aren’t the voters who “raise money, register voters, print and pass out voter guides, recruit their neighbors, and drive people to the polls.” That’s what fervent believers do, and McCain doesn’t have much time to win over religious conservatives who are “feeling benched” or flat-out rejected by his campaign.

There are plenty of reasons for Republicans to be “alarmed that the McCain campaign doesn’t seem up to the task of electing John McCain,” said William Kristol in The New York Times. “Let Obama be about belief”—let him claim “healing powers” that will heal the nation and the planet. “McCain’s message is that he’s a leader we can trust” and “that his character has been tested.” He can get voters to believe that, if his campaign gets on the ball.