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‘You can guess who I voted for,’ Billy Graham tells media Nov. 5

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–Comments by evangelist Billy Graham Nov. 5 are being interpreted as an endorsement of Texas Gov. George Bush for the presidency.

Graham, in Jacksonville, Fla., for an evangelistic campaign in the city’s Alltel Stadium, met with Bush for a private prayer breakfast. In posing for photographs with Bush and his wife, Laura, and his son, Franklin, Graham stated: “I don’t endorse candidates, but I’ve come as close to it as any time in my life.”

The Florida Times-Union, on its Internet site, noted: “The legendary evangelical leader, the Rev. Billy Graham, practically endorsed Bush,” whose race against Vice President Al Gore concludes with Nov. 7’s general election.

Graham, who led in prayer when Bush was inaugurated as governor of Texas, was quoted by the newspaper as saying he had already voted by absentee ballot in his home state of North Carolina. “You can guess who I voted for,” said Graham, who has acknowledged being a lifelong Democrat.

Bush, the Republican presidential nominee, took no questions from the media during his brief visit to Jacksonville following a week during which a 1976 arrest for drunken driving was in the nation’s headlines.

CNSNews.com, an Internet news site, carried Graham’s full comments.

The transcript includes Graham saying, “I have been praying for this crucial election. And I think it’s a crucial election, a critical election in the history of America. And I think that, uh, I’ve been praying that God’s will shall be done. I don’t endorse candidates. But I’ve come as close to it, I guess, now as any time in my life, because I think it’s extremely important. … And we believe that there’s going to be a tremendous victory and change by Tuesday night in the direction of the country — putting it in good hands.”

Graham said of Bush, “I believe in the integrity of this man. I’ve known him as a boy, I’ve known him as a young man, I’ve known him now still as a young man. And we’re very proud of him. I’m very thankful for the privilege of calling him friend, and his wife.

“It’s worth getting him [into] the White House to get her in the White House. Laura is a special person, I can tell you. The things that she can dream of and do! When we were in Puerto Rico holding meetings, the governors were having their governors’ convention down there. I suppose it was the Southern governors. And she brought some of the governors’ wives to our meeting. And just little things that I can remember many times that has bonded my heart and life to them. And if they, by God’s will, win, I’m going to do everything in my power to help them make it a successful presidency. God bless all of you.”

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