By MIKE BAKER
A second blogger working for Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards quit Tuesday under pressure from conservative critics who said her previous online messages were anti-Catholic.
Melissa McEwan wrote on her personal blog, Shakespeare’s Sister, that she left the campaign because she was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the level of attention focused on her and her family.
“This was a decision I made, with the campaign’s reluctant support, because my remaining the focus of sustained ideological attacks was inevitably making me a liability to the campaign,” McEwan said Tuesday night.
Kate Bedingfield, a spokeswoman for the Edwards campaign, said McEwan left the campaign under her own terms. Both Bedingfield and McEwan declined additional comment.
McEwan’s resignation came just one day after another blogger, Amanda Marcotte, left the Edwards staff for similar reasons.
Both had become a flashpoint for conservative critics. Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, called Marcotte and McEwan “foul-mouthed bigots” for remarks he deemed anti-Catholic. Last week, Donohue called on Edwards to fire both bloggers.
Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, responded that he considered the bloggers’ past writings personally offensive and added that similar content would not be tolerated. But he decided to keep Marcotte and McEwan on staff to give them “a fair shake.”
“We’re beginning a great debate about the future of our country, and we can’t let it be hijacked,” Edwards said in a statement last week.
Donohue had promised a nationwide public relations campaign in newspapers, magazines and Catholic publications in an effort to rid the Edwards campaign of the two bloggers. The Catholic League counts 350,000 members.
McEwan and Marcotte have stressed that the content and opinions on their personal blogs are in no way a reflection of the Edwards campaign.
In one posting, McEwan described Christian supporters of President Bush as his “wingnut Christofascist base.” Marcotte once posed a mock question-and-answer session in which she speculated what would have happened if the Virgin Mary had taken an emergency contraceptive.
“You’d have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology,” came the answer.
Donohue is a brash and frequent critic of those who speak out against the church, as well as homosexuals and Hollywood’s control by “secular Jews who hate Christianity.”
“It’s too bad that Edwards didn’t make the decision himself to get rid of them,” Donohue said Tuesday night. “Why he had to wait for these women to bail on their own doesn’t speak well for him. But I’m delighted, and as far as I’m concerned, this closes the issue. I have no vendetta against John Edwards.”
It didn’t take a soil scientist to detect that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was on unfamiliar turf at the 40th World Ag Expo.
Dressed in a black suit, sweater vest and penny loafers, Giuliani joked Tuesday about his lack of agricultural know-how at the farm equipment show where even the crowned and glittery Dairy Princess wore jeans and boots. But he vowed to be well-versed on the subject by the end of his campaign for president.
“This is not an area where I claim to be an expert, but I do understand how agriculture is critical to our nation,” said Giuliani, who is seeking the Republican nomination. “If you’re from Brooklyn, this a very good thing for you to see.”
The farm show is an annual event in the San Joaquin Valley, the nation’s most productive farmland that is home to dairies, fruit and nut orchards, vineyards and fields of vegetables.
Giuliani and Sen. John McCain of Arizona lead in popularity polls for the GOP nomination, well ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who officially entered the 2008 presidential race Tuesday.
Though clearly out of his urban element, Giuliani sought to reassure growers he had their interests in mind.
“The American farmer is the most innovative in the world,” he said. “You feed us. You take care of us. Each of us kind of helps the other.”
Some of those who took the time to listen to Giuliani’s keynote speech were at least impressed that he showed up even if he didn’t know much about their field of work.
“A big-city New Yorker has enough interest to come here to the community and talk about the woes of the nation and about solutions,” said Don Gregory, a former dairy farmer from Tulare. “I respect that.”
Democratic presidential candidate Tom Vilsack offered a plan on Tuesday to wean the nation off fossil fuels and roll back greenhouse gas emissions to a fraction of current levels.
The former Iowa governor said he would force new power plants to emit no carbon dioxide Ã¢â‚¬â€ one of the greenhouse gases blamed for rising earth temperatures Ã¢â‚¬â€ by 2020. Vilsack would cap U.S. carbon dioxide emissions and create a credit-trading program to meet the cap.
“Energy security is the single most important issue facing America today,” Vilsack said in remarks prepared for a speech Tuesday afternoon to the Commonwealth Club here. “It affects us every minute of every day. It affects our health, our personal finances, our economy and our quality of life.”
Among his proposals was a 75 percent reduction in greenhouse gases produced by the United States by 2050, principally through a mandatory “cap and trade” program among businesses and other institutions.
President Bush made a similar pledge to cap carbon emissions in his 2000 campaign, but broke it in 2001. Bush continues to oppose mandatory emission caps, arguing that industry through development of new technologies can deal with the problem at less cost.
Associated Press writers Olivia Munoz in Tulare and Scott Lindlaw in San Francisco contributed to this report.
Copyright Ã‚Â© 2007 The Associated Press