http://www.abpnews.com/www/1953.article Dobson backtracks on remarks questioning Thompson's faith By Robert Marus Published: April 3, 2007 COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (ABP) -- Focus on the Family head James Dobson is attempting to deflect criticism for his recent comments that questioned the Christian faith of a potential Republican presidential candidate. Dobson, through a spokesman for the Colorado-based organization, issued a statement March 30 saying a reporter had mischaracterized his comments on former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.). According to a U.S. News and World Report story posted March 28, when reporter Dan Gilgoff mentioned the possibility of Thompson joining the race for the 2008 Republican nomination, Dobson praised the former senator's conservative record on social issues. However, he added, "I don't think [Thompson]'s a Christian. At least, that's my impression." In a subsequent conversation with Gilgoff, Dobson spokesman Dan Schneeburger attempted to clarify the Religious Right leader's position on Thompson. He said Dobson "has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian -- someone who talks openly about his faith." Gilgoff's report -- written after what he said was an unsolicited phone call from the broadcaster -- quoted Dobson as praising former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), another potential 2008 candidate. Gingrich recently appeared on Dobson's radio show and admitted he had engaged in extramarital affairs -- including one in 1998, as he led the charge against then-President Bill Clinton for lying about his own indiscretion. In the March 30 statement, Dobson's press office said Gilgoff's story may leave readers with the mistaken impression that the broadcaster was disparaging Thompson and endorsing Gingrich. "In his conversation with Mr. Gilgoff, Dr. Dobson was attempting to highlight that to the best of his knowledge, Sen. Thompson hadn't clearly communicated his religious faith, and many evangelical Christians might find this a barrier to supporting him," the statement said. "Dr. Dobson told Mr. Gilgoff he had never met Sen. Thompson and wasn't certain that his understanding of the former senator's religious convictions was accurate. Unfortunately, these qualifiers weren't reported by Mr. Gilgoff." According to Gilgoff's story, a Thompson spokesman disputed the characterization of the former senator and television actor. The spokesman said Thompson is a baptized Church of Christ member. Gilgoff's story also noted Schneeburger's original clarification of Dobson's comments on Thompson's faith. The March 30 statement expressed concern that the story may have left readers with the impression that Dobson was endorsing Gingrich. "With regard to Mr. Gingrich, while Dr. Dobson spoke positively about his intelligence and his ability to articulate conservative values, he expressed concern about the former speaker's past moral failures," the statement said. In discussing Gingrich, Gilgoff wrote: "While making it clear he was not endorsing any Republican presidential candidate, Dobson, who is considered the most politically powerful evangelical figure in the country, also said that Gingrich was the 'brightest guy out there’ and ‘the most articulate politician on the scene today.'" The Focus on the Family "clarification" statement went on to say the group "would caution friends of our ministry not to believe what they read about Dr. Dobson in the secular media today. Never in the 30-year history of this ministry has there been more misreporting and outright distortion of his beliefs and teachings. It is apparent that those who represent a liberal worldview seek to marginalize him and confuse our friends." U.S. News and World Report's News Desk blog reported March 30 that an editor had reviewed Gilgoff's reporting and "fully" stood by the story. "We feel that Dan's piece was accurate and representative of the spirit of Dobson's comments," Gordon Witkin, the magazine's assistant managing editor, said on the blog.