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Democrats name pastor to lead faith outreach

As President Obama gears up his reelection campaign, the Dem­ocratic National Committee has tapped a well-connected Washington pastor to lead the party's religious outreach. He is Derrick Harkins, senior pastor of Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, one of Washing­ton's oldest historically black churches. Obama and his family worshiped there shortly before his inauguration.

Harkins is also a board member of the National Association of Evangeli­cals, a nationwide umbrella group, and Faith in Public Life, a liberal strategy center.

"I have every expectation that people of faith will be a key part of a successful election for Democrats in 2012," Harkins said on October 20. The pastor added that he will attempt to engage religious Americans on immigration reform, Obama's new health-care law and the role of religion in public life.

Joshua DuBois, who currently directs the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Part­ner­ships, ran religious outreach for Obama's 2008 campaign and helped him gain a larger percentage of supporters among Catholics, Jews, mainline Protestants and evangelicals
than did Senator John Kerry's 2004 campaign.

As a federally commissioned officer, DuBois now is barred from some campaign activities, including fund-raising.

Harkins is stepping into a role the DNC left empty during the 2010 midterm campaign, an absence that some party insiders blamed for large