Rev. E. Terri LaVelle, senior adviser on Religious Affairs for Obama, canceled a Tuesday appearance at a Reese Roundtable faith forum sponsored by the evangelical group Faith and Action in the Nation’s Capital. LaVelle reportedly canceled his appearance at the event via text message.
"There were 11 empty chairs," said Peggy Birchfield, chief of staff of the sponsoring group. She told Cybercast News Service that the event was "a way for evangelicals to be more familiar with both candidates."
Rev. LaVelle was named staff director of the Democratic National Committee’s Faith in Action Initiative in December 2007. According to the website of the DNC, the initiative was designed to "strengthen and build relationships with members of the faith community through regular outreach based on our shared values and priorities."
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean had praised Rev. LaVelle’s appointment, saying "Democrats are a big tent party, and Reverend LaVelle's unique talent and proven track record of bringing people together around our shared values are critical to our ongoing effort to engage in a meaningful dialogue with the faith community and reach out to Democrats everywhere as we work together for the common good."
This year’s Reese Roundtable event was intended to focus upon the two presidential candidates and religious values, Birchfield explained to Cybercast News Service.
Robert Heckman, a senior advisor to McCain, did speak at the event. According to Birchfield, audience response to Heckman was "very positive" as he was questioned on issues such as abortion and pro-family policy.
Guests in the audience included pastors, priests, congressional staffers, representatives from pro-life and pro-family groups, and the general public.