What Role Should Religion Play in Campaign Ads?

This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," December 18, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Still on politics, GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee raising a few eyebrows with his new ad, wishing folks a merry Christmas.

You seen it?


MIKE HUCKABEE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are you about worn of all the television commercials you have been seeing, mostly about politics? I don't blame you.

At this time of year, sometimes, it's nice to pull aside from all of that and just remember that what really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ and being with our family and our friends.


CAVUTO: Well, the ad featuring what appears — appears — to be a subliminal cross floating behind him, does it cross the line?

Well, atheist Michael Newdow says, yes, it does. But Ray Flynn disagrees. He is the former ambassador to the Vatican.

So, Michael, you took at look at this and said, over the top?

MICHAEL NEWDOW, ATTORNEY/ACTIVIST: It is clearly over the top. I mean, first of all, subliminal, I wouldn't use that term. It is clearly a cross. There's no doubt what he had in mind. And it's — the word that comes to mind is slimy. I mean, to pander to religious...


CAVUTO: Why is it — let's say — why is it slimy to show a cross?

NEWDOW: It is slimy to use that for political purposes. I mean, that's exactly what the framers had — were — were trying to prevent, this sort of...



Ambassador, what do you think of that? It's slimy to show a cross in a political ad?

RAY FLYNN, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE VATICAN: That's who, apparently, Mike Huckabee is. I think it is — it is totally appropriate.

It is something that I think people, most people, in the country can identify with. And I think it is a very soothing, it's a very moving commercial. That's what Christmas is about. And Mike Huckabee is extended his merry Christmas and greetings to people across the United States.

If they don't want to vote for him for saying, merry Christmas, then that's their problem. But Mike Huckabee is reaching to his group.


Well, Michael, what do you make of that? Whatever the risk, he has obviously ticked you off, and you don't like this. And, as someone who is a devout atheist, you don't — you don't like it. So, you're free not to vote for him, right?


NEWDOW: And he is free to do that.

But, I mean, to suggest that this — he is just wishing people merry Christmas, I mean, the guy pays I don't how many tens of thousands of dollars that ad cost. And to start and say, look, I'm not doing anything political; I just want you to know I believe in Jesus, that is pure politics and it's using religion for it. It's a horrible thing to do.

FLYNN: Well, I believe in Jesus, too, and I'm not running for anything.

CAVUTO: Well, aren't you just as much — all right, Ambassador, I just want to be clear on this.

But, Michael, from your own position, aren't you using your avowed position against God, which you're free to have, as part of what you are and what you say you are?

NEWDOW: I'm not running for a public office. I couldn't because I am an atheist. I couldn't get elected.

But idea that somebody running — this is a man who is going to represent all Americans. And he sends — why doesn't he just wear a little sign on here, OK? Jews, Muslims, atheists, Buddhists, we don't really care about you — I mean, that is what he is saying. He is saying, here, I'm — I believe in Jesus.

CAVUTO: Are you saying, then, that — are saying that the — the 43 men that have been president of the United States, all Christians, were all saying that to Jews and Muslims and non-Christians?

NEWDOW: No. I didn't see them come out and say that — put crosses behind them as they ran for public office, and say about how they are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

CAVUTO: All right, Ambassador, what do you make of that?

FLYNN: Well, I think it is absolutely ludicrous, silly, the comments that are being made.

People have a right to express their values or not express their values, and people decide. That is what elections, that is what democracy is all about. There are going to be some lunatics that are not going to vote for Mike Huckabee because of what he said here in this commercial.

But I think the overwhelming majority of people in this country, when somebody greets them saying merry Christmas or extends that kind of greeting which is heartfelt, I think he picks up a lot of support. I think it's a — it's a real plus for Mike Huckabee.

And, if you want to say he is using politics, well, I want to remind you that, number one, it is Christmas. And, number two, Mike Huckabee is in an election. And people have that right to decide whether or not they are going to support him or not.

CAVUTO: Michael, you would never support Huckabee, would you?

NEWDOW: I would never support — I would not support an atheist who went out there and said, I think that God is a myth.

I don't support people...


NEWDOW: ... based on this pandering for religious biases, which is what he is doing.

CAVUTO: Michael, I want to thank you.

Ambassador, want to thank you.

FLYNN: Thank you.


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