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.

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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)
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  2. Stacy

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    November 6, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  3. Kindness

    This is my experience... Thank you.

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    I Accepted Jesus christ as my lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners. Even once we are saved by christs merciful grace we will still experience adversity to mold us to adhering to the truth.
    We will slip... But not fall of the ship ...carrying us onward to perfection in christs grace.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from some other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith ....above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read romans or corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are by faith above reason in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

    Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door,
    And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
    The, looking in, I saw upon the floor
    Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.
    “How many anvils have you had,” said I,
    “To wear and batter all these hammers so?”
    “Just one,” said he, and then with twinkling eye,
    “The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”
    And so, thought I, the anvil of God’s Word,
    For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
    Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
    The anvil is unharmed – the hammers gone.

    Truth.. Is exclusive

    October 15, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • .

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "The Truth" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert"

      This troll is not a christian...

      October 15, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Reality

      Moving on to the 21st century:

      The Apostles' Creed 2012 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      (References used are available upon request.)

      October 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer really changes things

    October 15, 2012 at 6:02 am |
    • Snopes concurs that...

      You keep saying it but never back it with evidence...so Snopes Concurs that you suffer from religious retardation

      October 15, 2012 at 6:16 am |
    • no one gives a sh it

      what snopes thinks

      October 15, 2012 at 6:22 am |
    • just sayin

      There is a joy in prayer known by quite a few this very day with humble heart that joy is there for you. God bless

      October 15, 2012 at 6:24 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!~...

      October 15, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  5. Salero21

    This is what the Bible says about Idolatry in the book of the Prophet Isaiah 40:18-20

    40:18 To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to?

    40:19 As for an idol, a craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it.

    40:20 A man too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot. He looks for a skilled craftsman to set up an idol that will not topple.

    And in ch. 44:9-20
    44:9 All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame.

    44:10 Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit him nothing?

    44:11 He and his kind will be put to shame; craftsmen are nothing but men. Let them all come together and take their stand; they will be brought down to terror and infamy.

    44:12 The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it in the coals; he shapes an idol with hammers, he forges it with the might of his arm. He gets hungry and loses his strength; he drinks no water and grows faint.

    44:13 The carpenter measures with a line and makes an outline with a marker; he roughs it out with chisels and marks it with compasses. He shapes it in the form of man, of man in all his glory, that it may dwell in a shrine.

    44:14 He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.

    44:15 It is man's fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it.

    44:16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, "Ah! I am warm; I see the fire."

    44:17 From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, "Save me; you are my god."

    44:18 They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand.

    44:19 No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, "Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?"

    44:20 He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, "Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?"

    October 14, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Snopes concurs that...

      Believing in fairy tales past the age of 7 is unhealthy

      October 15, 2012 at 6:20 am |
    • no one gives a sh it

      If snopes concurs or not

      October 15, 2012 at 6:22 am |
    • Salero21

      Snopes concurs is not past the age of 7. Therefore Snopes believes in fairy tales. Idols made by men or women according to their own IMAGINATIONS are fairy tales.

      October 15, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Salero21

      Snopes concurs... is not past the age of 7. Therefore Snopes believes in fairy tales. Idols made by men or women according to their own IMAGINATIONS are fairy tales.

      October 15, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • itsallaloadofbollocks

      salero. The question is why do you believe in fairy tales?

      October 15, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  6. EX catholic

    ALL of the doctrines, dogmas, teachings, ceremonies, rituals and practices of the Politico-religious Organization called the Roman-catholic church are GROSSLY IDOLATROUS.

    Idolatry is the same as the worship of demons, the Bible does in fact says and demons-trated that unequivocally.

    So, what is it that we have as a Nation, as a people in this Election to choose from? Well, from a christian perspective NOT AT ALL a good thing! On one side there is a heretical Mormon with an Idolater catholic partner. On the other side there is an Apostate with Low morals with another catholic idolater buddy. So, clearly looking at it with the Scriptures as a Reference; Is like trying to choose which is the lesser Evil, when in reality they're all part of the same dough.

    October 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • His panic

      As a former catholic/Idolater/Unbeliever and Ignorant of the Word of God myself, I find your posts very interesting, I'll say Amen to them!! There is no need to panic however God will see us thru all of this huge mess.

      October 14, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    October 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but everything you have ever asserted regarding atheism and prayer is unfounded. The degree to which your assertions may represent truths is 0.0. To help you understand the degree to which your assertions may represent truths, I will access my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE). Using my IEE module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      October 13, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  8. Tednet

    Sound of Silence:
    Allow me to introduce you the Scriptures, specifically on the matter of abortion. Jesus, in a pre-incarnate visitation with Abraham announced the birth of Isaac a decade before Isaac's birth. David, the great King, said in his psalms, Father, thou hast known me in my mother's womb. Jehovah said to the prophet, Jeremiah, I called you before I formed you in your mother's womb. The clear implied reality here is that life takes place even before conception. Just by the way, fornication and adultery are considered mortal sins in Catholicism. Finally, why is it that in the fight for a woman's Right to choose, that I never hear about a woman's Responsibility to choose?

    October 13, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Rachel

      STOP Obama's terrorism against Medical Marijuana cancer patients. STOP Obama's attacks against elderly women.

      October 13, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Because her responsibility is none of your business, dumbbell.

      October 14, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  9. Walt Peterson

    "the Obama campaign hasn’t been shy about suggesting that the GOP vice presidential nominee hasn’t lived up to his Catholic values."

    Seriously? And Biden has?

    October 13, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Pete Walterson

      So Ryan's adherence to Ayn Rand's philosophy of greed IS in keeping with christian teaching about taking care of the poor and less fortunate?

      October 14, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Do you really think Ryan is fit to be President, should something happen to Romney? I don't.

      October 14, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  10. Gene Gormley

    And that concludes our consideration of an ancient death-cult.
    We now resume our pursuit of earth-based policies.
    It's so sad to see two grown men to consider women's health but yet pander to the preferences of celibates.

    October 13, 2012 at 6:53 am |
  11. Poul

    Catholics for Choice. These are the catholics that are not afraid to follow their conscience. We catholics are hypocrites by nature. We all pick and choose what we want from the bible. I do it and so do all catholics, even the priests do it. So who is right.?

    October 12, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Urnso2

      Very true!

      Although I think it is fair to say that almost all humans are hypocrits.

      October 12, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Poul anytime I am presented with information that is questionable, I can compare it to the catechism which is the sum of our now over 2000 year accuomulation of wisdom on a wide range of issues. In a world full of hypocrites, including some in the church, I have found it to be the most sustainable and reliable code for human conduct. I suggest you read it. Then tell me how you can elucidate the principles of social justice and personal property without the right to life.

      October 15, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  12. Urnso2

    Isn't it more Catholic to donate than mandate?

    Remember separation of church and state!

    October 12, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      How refreshingly concise

      October 15, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  13. Darly314

    Ryan looked like a teenager trying to talk to a Professor, I laughed at Ryan also, as did most people with above room temperature IQs.

    Ryan is the WORST VP pick since...Palin, though Palin is looking better after more exposure of RYAN.

    October 12, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • gfraab

      Come and live in Illinois. You will not find anything funny about the Dem rule. Higher taxes for everyone to support the corruption.

      October 12, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Gerg18

      Biden is like a Professor?! I think even Biden would have a maniacally deranged laugh over that one. That must be some pretty powerful "bunch of stuff" you're smoking there, Darly.

      October 12, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Corruption in Illinois is the one thing that is decidedly bi-partisan.

      October 12, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Urnso2

      Biden looked more like the Joeker.

      The laughing was fine except when he laughed at Iran's timeline to get a nuke.

      He Seemed to shrug it off cause they don't have a missle?

      Right after he blamed Libya on failed intelligence.

      What bothered me was that he average about 1 interuption per 30 seconds of Ryan's speaking time.

      It was like the strategy was not to let Ryan complete a sentence.

      October 12, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  14. montani42

    Joe Biden is trying to say he is a Christian and a Catholic and at the same time supports abortion on demand and forcing church organizations to provide birth control though the Catholic church is against birth control. He is no true Catholic or Christian. He is whatever politics demands. He is a hypocrite! He has no moral core at all. Neither does Obama, who also falsely claims to be a Christian. If they were Christians, they wouldn't lie daily. I have never seen such an immoral administration in my 70 years.

    October 12, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • gfraab

      Well said.

      October 12, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • The Sound of Silence

      Allow me to quote Jesus exact words on abortion:

      October 12, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • Urnso2

      Let me quote Moses: Thou shalt not kill

      I am pretty sure that means babies too!

      October 12, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Urnso2

      Moutain, If Joe says he is Catholic he is Catholic in my book.

      It is not like he said he was Jesus Christ.

      You can't hate a politician for being a liar and a hypocrit, it is almost inherent to the job.

      October 12, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
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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.