It seems like a no-brainer - character and conduct! The two should go together like peanut butter and jelly or like green eggs and ham - especially in presidential candidates and actually in all who aspire to lead.
In our post-modern world, we have taken a turn in the road from objective to subjective, from absolute to relative, from truth to whatever works for you and on and on. We have also taken a turn away from foundationally knowing that character matters. We hear and even say or think that a person's private life (even public figures like presidents) is what they do on their own time and is nobody's business. Thus the wedge between character and conduct begins to widen.
Character determines conduct or should! Character is who a person is in the bedrock of their soul. Character is who and person is and what a person does when no one but God is looking. Character is built and developed. Character determines our values and thus guides our actions. Character matters! So does conduct.
The problem is that we (the world of 2008) have divorced the two - character and conduct - so that we minimize the value of character and shut our eyes to conduct that comes from flawed or missing character. After all, if we examine the relationship of character to conduct too closely, then accountibility follows. And accountibility is fundamentally scary!
There is another problem: we demand perfection as in "no dirty laundry" in public figures - at least the ones who don't follow our philosophical base and we tolerate almost anything when the public figure is doing what we champion.
This is twisted thinking and practice! The business of restored hearts demands by very definition that something is wrong and needs restoration. Builders don't restore brand-new houses. There's no need. What God calls us to is restoration, grace, mercy and justice. (Micah 6:8)
The fact is that all our character is flawed and damaged by sin. We are born that way.
It is only in the process of restoration through the truths of the Gospel that God builds His character deeply into our souls. From the inside out we begin to reflect His character and truth rather than the twisted character and lies which constitute who we are from birth because of sin.
God's process of heart restoration is all about His buildling His character - even infusing His character - as He scrapes away all the bad stuff and replaces it with the new. That's what restoration is - getting rid of the old and broken and replacing it with new. God is the Great Restorer!
God knows and cares about character and conduct. God also knows that repentance (followed by forgiveness) is possible and restoration is real when the Gospel begins to work its way into one heart at a time!