home
RSS
Obama camp, liberal groups use VP debate to organize Catholic voters
The debate between Paul Ryan, left, and Joe Biden marks the first time two Catholic vice presidential nominees are facing off.
October 11th, 2012
12:27 PM ET

Obama camp, liberal groups use VP debate to organize Catholic voters

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) – As it organizes Catholic watch parties for Thursday night’s debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, who are both Roman Catholic, the Obama campaign hasn’t been shy about suggesting that the GOP vice presidential nominee hasn’t lived up to his Catholic values.

“For Catholic outreach, a defining moment in this campaign has been (Mitt) Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate,” said Broderick Johnson, a senior adviser with Barack Obama’s campaign who spearheads Catholic outreach efforts.

“The Ryan budget has entered into quite a debate, particularly among Catholics, in terms of the moral test and what is in that budget and what the budget proposes to slash.”

Johnson is referring to the proposed budget that Ryan crafted in his role as chairman of the House Budget Committee, which was roundly criticized by many Catholic interests – including by the Catholic bishops – for cutting programs that help the poor.

The Obama camp hopes the debate will provide an opportunity to reprise such Catholic criticisms of Ryan. “The vice presidential debate will be a significant event and will provide a strong contrast on how these two men from the same faith come to two different visions for the country,” said Michael Wear, Obama's national faith vote coordinator.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

For a party that has often been accused of insufficient piety by its Republican and conservative opponents, Democrats' implications that the GOP vice presidential nominee has fallen short of his Catholic faith are a dramatic turnabout.

And it’s not the only way the Obama campaign and liberal groups are using Thursday’s debate to organize Catholic voters, one of the country’s big swing voting constituencies.

Beyond encouraging Catholic watch parties, the Obama campaign has been visiting Catholic colleges in swing states and dispatching Catholic campaign surrogates to address Catholic groups in the leadup to the debate.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

“Every time I see the president, we talk about how Catholic outreach is going,” Johnson said. “He’s very interested in that, and it makes my job more meaningful.”

Left-leaning Catholic groups that aren’t officially connected to the Obama campaign have been even more vocal in attacking Ryan from a Catholic perspective.

“Some of his positions are fundamentally at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church,” said a Ryan critique issued this week by dozens of Catholic theologians and other Catholic scholars.

The organizers of the statement, part of a group called On All of Our Shoulders, said that while Catholic politicians who support abortion rights are often called out for their differences with their church, “Catholic Republicans who dissent from church teaching on issues such as torture, war, the environment and the economy receive far less scrutiny.”

With Ryan, progressive Catholic groups have taken particular aim his proposed budget, which passed the House but not the Senate.

A letter to Ryan from faculty at Georgetown, a Catholic university, summed up the Catholic opposition to the proposal: “We would be remiss in our duty to you and our students if we did not challenge your continuing misuse of Catholic teaching to defend a budget plan that decimates food programs for struggling families, radically weakens protections for the elderly and sick, and gives more tax breaks to the wealthiest few.”

This year, a group of progressive nuns organized a “nuns on the bus tour” to decry what it called the Ryan budget’s “slashing of programs for the poor.”

This week, the nuns reprised the tour, criss-crossing Ohio just in time for the vice presidential debate. “He clearly has not been where I’ve been," Simon Campbell, an organizer of the tour, told MSNBC of Ryan. “He just is out of touch.”

A progressive group called Catholics United is organizing watch parties for the debate, noting in an e-mail blast to supporters that the event marks the first time two Catholics vying for the White House are facing off.

“This election is coming down to the wire and the Catholic vote will certainly play an important role in determining who will win,” the group said.

The Romney campaign, like the Obama campaign, has rolled out a Catholic outreach effort. And Ryan has invoked his Catholic faith on the campaign trail after defending his budget in distinctly Catholic terms earlier in the year.

“The work I do, as a Catholic holding office, conforms to the social doctrine as best I can make of it,” Ryan said in an April speech at Georgetown in which he responded to criticism of his budget.

Ryan has promoted the Catholic idea of “subsidiarity,” which he says means that “the government closest to the people governs best” and which he says informs his budget proposal.

When Romney introduced Paul as his running mate over the summer, the Republican presidential hopeful called him “a faithful Catholic” who “believes in the worth and dignity of every human life.”

About one in four American voters is Catholic, though there is such a broad range in Catholic political concerns and voting habits that many political experts reject the notion of a cohesive Catholic bloc.

Catholics have voted with the winning presidential candidate in every election since the early 1990s.

In 2008, Obama beat John McCain among Catholics by 54% to 45%. In 2004, John Kerry – the first Catholic nominee for president since John F. Kennedy – lost the Catholic vote to George W. Bush, provoking Democrats to take Catholic outreach more seriously.

Both major parties had America’s highest-profile Catholic cleric, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, give the closing prayer at their recent political conventions.

–CNN’s Dan Merica contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Bishops • Catholic Church • Joe Biden • Paul Ryan • Politics

soundoff (517 Responses)
  1. Jim

    Satan v. Satan. I think I'll watch an old Andy Griffith Show instead.

    October 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  2. Dyslexic doG

    Ask the Nuns on the Bus who has the true catholic policies!

    October 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Why would we ask someone who has contravened their vows?

      October 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • ;p;

      No contraversion happened Bill

      October 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  3. Dyslexic doG

    the upcoming election will prove two points.
    (a) that christians are believers according to convenience, and
    (b) that republican christians are republicans first and christians second

    Romney is a mormon which is a religion that, as well as co-optingsome parts and characters from the bible word for word, also contradicts and makes a mockery of so many key christian religious beliefs that it should be a bigger issue to christians than gay marriage and abortion. But ... the same way as christians always pick and choose which parts of the bible to loudly proclaim and which parts of the bible to pretend don't exist ... they will ignore all these issues and vote for Romney anyway.

    What do you think God/Jesus will think of you if you give your vote to a man who truly believes that he will one day be a God? Or a man who truly believes that Joseph Smith, a 19th century reknowned con-man, is an equal of Jesus?

    Go on christans, pretend you never read this post. Find some obscure bible quote that will justify you supporting a cult. What a joke!

    October 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • The Eternal Satyr

      http://www.jesusneverexisted.com

      October 11, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Scott

      The reason that this Christian (it's capitalized you know) is voting for the Mormon is because Romney is the much lesser of two evils. No Bible quotes needed.

      Scott

      October 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • ;p;

      i.e. 'evil' being incredibly relative and narrow minded

      October 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  4. mikey

    Liberation Theology and Social Justice are code words for marxism/leninism that the "nuns" use to sell communist doctrine. They support Obama because Obamacare will dump hundreds of millions of dollars into their system of hospitals. For years the Campaign for Human Development and in some part Catholic Charities have supported Acorn cuases like open borders and support of world healthcare, all supported by the U.S. Taxpayer.

    October 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  5. JerryG1

    The real dilemma for Catholics: how to vote in good conscience for EITHER party. One aborts babies; the other, the poor.
    Hmm: War on babies, or on the poor?

    October 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • old joe

      You make it a little to cut and dry. Mitt can't seem to make up his mind about anything, and you would think that would be an easy one for him (at least to stay in line with the rest of his "team"). Of course he might say something, and then change his mind the next day. That's par for the course for him.

      October 11, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Scott

      You might want to read Arthur Brook's book "Who Really Cares". In there Mister Brooks provides the statistical evidence that religious conservatives give more in time and money to charities than any of the other three groupings. Now you were inferring what about conservatives, a.k.a. Republicans?

      Scott
      p.s. I'm a conservative that is registered democrat. Always have been and always will be.

      October 11, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • ;p;

      One guy writes a book slanted to his view and that's all the proof you need?

      October 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Scott

      ;p; espouses: One guy writes a book slanted to his view and that's all the proof you need?

      Ah, so you're a lib arts major. If you go back and reread my posting you'll notice that I stated STATISTICAL EVIDENCE [emphasis added].

      Seeing how you could not hack real science (this include upper level mathematics) in college I'll try to make it simple for you. Statistical evidence means that a number of people were surveyed to determine how much they did for charity and what their political and religious beliefs were. Now the number of people that were sampled was enough to give a mathematician an accurate sample within a margin of error. Similar to the reputable polls. They will give the percentage voting for the candidates with a margin of error, e.g. ±3%.

      Again, I'm so sorry that you could not handle those really tough college courses such as Calculus, Differential Equations, Probability and Statistics, Calc based Physics, etc.. 😉

      Scott

      October 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • ;p;

      Your attempt at diversion is adorable, but...

      One guy with an agenda, whose numbers reflect that agenda...uh huh. It's not like he could get a viable analysis of non-religious involvement. I'm beginning to find myself vicariously embarassed for you, Scott-Scott.

      October 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  6. irunner

    "I only had to say 10 Our Fathers and 5 Hail Marys!"

    "Oh yeah! I only had to say 5 Our Fathers and NO Hail Marys!"

    October 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  7. Jowl

    I thought Biden was Jewish so this is a surprise for me.

    October 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • irunner

      You are thinking of Joe Lieberman.

      October 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Marie

      lol. No. But would anyone be surprised if Mittens tells everyone tomorrow that he is no longer a Mormon? I wouldn't. By the way, is there something like a Darwin Award for candidates that break a new world record in flip-flopping?

      October 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      You mean like "it was the anti-Islamic movie." "No it wasn't." " Yes it was." "Well, no it wasn't."

      October 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  8. T-Max73

    It will be humorous to hear the candidates accuse each other of not being a "true Catholic" or a "true Christian." To the rational and critically thinking mind, they are both delusional misfits. Peace.

    October 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • irunner

      Delusional misfits? Kinda like stooges! Nyuk Nyuk!

      October 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Sam

      I'm guessing you're calling them delusional misfits because of their beliefs. So anybody who is religious is a delusional misfit to the critical thinking? What about John Polkinghorne (Cambridge particle physicist and Anglican priest), George Coyne (astrophysicist and Catholic priest), Georges LeMaitre (formulator of the Big Bang theory and Catholic priest), Francis Collins (geneticist and atheist to Christian convert), Cees Dekker (biophysicist and Christian), and Kenneth Miller (evolutionary biologist and Catholic)? Are they all delusional misfits? Are you more critical thinking and rational than renowned scientists? Nope, you are just another smug arrogant internet atheist.

      October 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  9. FourleafTayback

    I'm no expert on the subject but doesn't the Roman Catholic Church forbid abortion? How can Biden claim that he is a Catholic..isn't he really something else? I guess that he better hope that the Pope and the Church have the rules wrong so he doesn't burn in eternal hell.

    October 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Alpa Chino

      Guess they better argue about the bible some mo....

      October 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • irunner

      Biden had an abortion?

      October 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Reason & Logic

      As a Catholic, I'm sure that most "laws" would be stricken from the Canon if Christ had a say in them today. As for abortion, I'm not for it but wish that those who are vehemently against it would provide monetary support for every woman they convince to carry their baby to term. To condemn women who want an abortion but then have no concern for the child after it is born is hypocritical.

      October 11, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      As a Catholic, do you know of any practical Catholic men who do not, in fact, support their children. For the uninformed practical Catholic means one who observes the faith.

      October 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • ;p;

      @Bill – the gay kids

      But I suppose they're not exactly human anyway, right?

      If a gay gene is ever found catholics are going to test for it and suddenly be all for abortion

      October 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  10. Chris

    Democrats should never talk about Catholic values. That's a joke.

    October 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • ;p;

      catholics should never talk

      October 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Paul

      http://www.catholicdemocrats.org/cfo/index.php

      October 11, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Chris

      A liberal saying "catholics should never talk" is a huge reason more and more PRACTICING Catholics are converting to republican. Early-to-mid 1900s, just about every Catholic was Democrat. That's down to just over half (~55%), and a large percentage of the remaining "Catholics" in the Democrat party are "Catholics" by name only.

      October 11, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Douglas

      "A liberal saying "catholics should never talk" is a huge reason more and more PRACTICING Catholics are converting to republican."

      If that's the reason you're switching then it only proves what lame cowards you all are.

      October 11, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Reason & Logic

      Republicans = wage more wars, cut food stamps, cut social security, end medicare, cut unemployment compensation, cut veterans benefits, give more tax breaks to the rich, etc. Those are not ideas ingrained in any Christian faith that I know of. The Democrats are more Christ-leaning than the Republicans.

      October 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • ;p;

      Hey Chris

      'liberal' is not a clever synonym for 'someone who doesn't agree with me'

      Idiot

      October 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Chris

      Hey ";p;",

      It's called using common sense to infer that you're a liberal based on what was said in the context it was said. You're definitely a liberal. And why would anyone want to belong to a party that is full of people like you that are ignorant and hate me because of my religion?

      October 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Chris

      A conservative wouldn't have harassed me for bashing a liberal, that would make no sense. And an independent would have remained neutral and not responded, since they don't have a dog in this fight. So you can say what you want, but you're definitely a liberal.

      October 11, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • ;p;

      Now it's 'hate' and 'harassment' in addition to just leaping to conclusions. You're doing a terrific job of looking like an idiot. Persecution, much?

      October 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Chris

      And you're doing a great job of deflecting (sarcasm). How would you describe the comment "catholics should never talk". I'd say there's a lot of hate and ignorance in that comment, considering you just generalized all Catholics as not being worthy of talking. But i guess that's just because i'm an "idiot". Do enlighten me, oh genius one.

      October 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Chris

      I also noticed you didn't correct me when I laid out the reasoning for why you're a liberal. I'll take that to assume I inferred correctly.

      October 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • ;p;

      Well, considering the fact that you still believe that the word 'liberal' means 'does not agree with me', then sure. The rest is community-college-level pop psy bullshit. Thanks for playing!

      October 11, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  11. Taskmaster

    Joe Biden , Nancy Grace and Barrak Obama three of the most transparent liars in American history.

    October 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Scott

      ... don't forget the Botox [female dog], Nancy Pelosi.

      Scott

      October 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • ;p;

      Thanks for your opinion....

      No one cares

      October 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • ;p;

      It's ok to put on your big boy pants and say bitch, Scott

      Also, still signing your posts...too funny

      October 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Scott

      ;p; excretes: Thanks for your opinion.... No one cares

      And you are so ego-centric you think we care about yours? BWHAHAHAHaHaHaHahahahaha

      Scott

      October 11, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • ;p;

      I think your type usually favors the word 'spew' over 'excrete'...nice try on expanding the vocab though, I guess

      Plus, 'BWAHAH' is pretty grade school – does mommy know you're on the computer?

      October 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • ;-)

      "Joe Biden , Nancy Grace and Barrak Obama three of the most transparent liars in American history."

      Oh, they should be more like the republicans where they lie directly to the American public to get us into a war under false pretenses. Then have the nerve to say God told him to do it, mean while hundred of thousands of innocent people are dead. Sorry but the republicans were the biggest liars in American history and disgraced this great country!

      October 11, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • old joe

      I love it when Turrets is manifested via a blog.

      October 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  12. steve

    When Romney was aggressive in his debate, the media called him pushy and insensitive. When Biden gets aggressive, the media will call him plucky and feisty. It's predictable.

    October 11, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • ;p;

      It's magical that you can see into the future like that

      October 11, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • steve

      Look at the front page of CNN, they are calling him "scrappy". It's already happening.

      October 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • ;p;

      Don't worry, Faux News will make all your wishes come true by bashing him

      October 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • bigTBone

      The media also visibly said the Lying Mitt Romney won. Don't see you disputing that...

      Romney prattled on like a crackhead, attempting to pack 6 years of being on the sidelines into 90 minutes.

      I hope Joe is SCRAPPY. I hope he calls out this randian piece of work on all fronts.

      October 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  13. jm 2007

    CARDINAL timothy dolan

    October 11, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  14. Theodoric of York

    I think Ryan is a slimy snake who should crawl back under his rock. Biden has already won.

    October 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • steve

      I think Biden is a slimy snake who should crawl back under his rock. Ryan has already won. See? it's that easy.

      October 11, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • ;p;

      Ryan's got a smug, zealot gleam in his eyes like he just knows he's always right...pretty creepy

      October 11, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • ;-)

      "Ryan's got a smug, zealot gleam in his eyes like he just knows he's always right...pretty creepy"

      Yup and he won't give any details either cause it's too complicated even for him. ;-P

      October 11, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • steve

      ;p; – you mean like Obama?

      October 11, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • ;p;

      steve

      maybe you should get your hands out of Ryan's pants for five minutes

      October 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • ;-)

      ";p; – you mean like Obama?"

      That's why he had the courage to go on national TV and say he had a bad night and admit he was wrong about denying gay marriage. Romney wouldn't have the balls.

      October 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • ;p;

      Everyone knows Romney and Ryan will never admit to being wrong about anything, even though they can't even decide what they think about any issue so far

      I guess they should spend a few minutes talking to each other to see if their agendas line up

      October 11, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  15. DustyOnes

    Both major parties had America’s highest-profile Catholic cleric, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, give the closing prayer at their recent political conventions.
    __________________________________________________________________________________________________

    The Republicans provided a deafening Amen at the end of the prayer.

    The Democrats provided overtalk...it was not even covered on MSNBC.

    October 11, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • ;p;

      What's your point

      October 11, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      To me the point is that if Catholics think the Democratic party is in tune with our values they are dreaming. The Dems are like a used car salesmen telling a pretty girl what she wants to hear.

      October 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Douglas

      "To me the point is that if Catholics think the Democratic party is in tune with our values they are dreaming. The Dems are like a used car salesmen telling a pretty girl what she wants to hear."

      That's why the Republicans lied telling idiots like you what you wanted to hear so we could go into a bogus war.

      October 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  16. sonny chapman

    Jesus did battle with the Pharisees while on Earth as to the true meaning of being righteous. Progressive Catholics have been doing battle w/Conservative Bishops on what is righteousness. When in doubt, choose the teachings of Jesus as found in the Four Gospels over the "Pronouncements" of the Hierarchy.

    October 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Scott

      ... or pronouncements of the "progressives" (a.k.a. liberals).

      Scott

      October 11, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • DustyOnes

      "progressives" a.k.a. "Leftist"

      October 11, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • ;p;

      'progressives' aka people moving toward sanity

      October 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • sonny chapman

      What do you think Modern Repubs.. would think of Jesus & his "rabble rousing, peacenik Socialists" if they were here in America today ? Hint- listen to the Johnny Paycheck song.

      October 11, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • ;p;

      Haha, Jesus was the biggest liberal that ever was! So funny – he would take the catholic church apart if he saw it

      October 11, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • sonny chapman

      "Pronouncements" of the Soul after prayer & reflection were called Listening To My Conscience" in Catholic Catechism.

      October 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • irunner

      "while on earth"? Did he leave? If so, how is it so many people say they found him? 🙂

      October 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  17. Scott

    Hmmmm, CNN must feel that Ol' Joe is holding his own in these comments, else they would have turned them off by now and would have removed my comment calling them out on their "libocrisy". 😉

    Scott

    October 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • ;p;

      That's cute

      There are no mods on these forums

      October 11, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  18. CJ

    Joe Biden has a significant amount of experience as a Senator and 4 years as a Vice President. He is much more able to lead if something were to happen to the President.

    October 11, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • old joe

      True, the thought of Ryan achieving the Presidency that way is frightening.

      October 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Scott

      You're kidding ... I HOPE!

      Scott

      October 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • ;p;

      Hey Scott, protip: if your screen name is Scott, you don't need to sign your posts. Pretty sure we can tell you're 'Scott'. I'm not sure which is the bigger sign of your idiocy – that, or your misguided views.

      October 11, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Scott

      ;p; аnаI vents: Hey Scott, protip: if your screen name is Scott, you don't need to sign your posts. Pretty sure we can tell you're 'Scott'. I'm not sure which is the bigger sign of your idiocy – that, or your misguided views.

      🙂 The reason I still do this is that I know that for some unknown reason it get to you komrade libs. 🙂

      Scott

      October 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  19. JohnoT

    If a campaign makes an issue of religion, they are in their rights to mix politics and religion, however the majority of americans don't appreciate mixing politics and religion – even when it's the president's staff initiating a discussion about religion and guiding people to vote based on it.

    October 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Greg C.

      Posturing...Biden will be Biden; he's predictable.

      October 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • sonny chapman

      Ronald Reagan let the genie out of the bottle when he embraced THE MOST Rev. Jerry Falwell. Christians must decide if their Faith & their political practices are aligned.

      October 11, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • bigTBone

      When it comes to actual service of and for the weak, poor and unhealthy, which campaign aligns better?

      millions of previously uninsured are now covered vs day one repeal of the ACA?

      October 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  20. e320dq

    The only chance Joe has is if he comes dressed up as Big Bird – which I would not put past him...

    October 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.