ST. LOUIS -- Television evangelist Pat Robertson routed his search for supporters for his bid for the Republican presidential nomination through the Southern Baptist Convention this week.

But even with the backing of a past president of the denomination and the support of a man Robertson predicted "may be the next {SBC} president," the would-be candidate attracted little interest here.

Fewer than 200 of the more than 23,000 registered messengers turned out for the Robertson event, hosted by the Rev. James Draper, former SBC president, and Ed McAteer.

McAteer, founder of the Religious Roundtable, which eight years ago helped galvanize the religious right into the political process, is a key lay member of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, presided over by the current convention president, the Rev. Adrian Rogers.

Rogers did not attend the Robertson reception, which was held at a hotel away from the convention site.

Although ordained as a Southern Baptist, Robertson has built his TV ministry as an independent evangelist with strong charismatic leanings. Baptists, and particularly the SBC, are traditionally critical of charismatics with their speaking in tongues and emphasis on direct communication from the Holy Spirit.

Draper, in introducing Robertson, noted that "he's been a Southern Baptist all his life," explaining that "his ministry and exposure have made it difficult to be active in a local church."

As for "the charismatic question," said Draper, who has appeared on Robertson's "700 Club," "that's never come up" in their relationship, the Texas pastor said.

Robertson told a news conference that the Rev. Ed Young, a Houston pastor who Robertson predicted would be the next SBC president, had "emceed our fund-raiser at Bunker Hunt's ranch last July."

Young could not be reached for comment.