Skip to comments.Bush outlines appeal to Catholic voters (analysis)
Posted on 08/07/2004 3:50:41 PM PDT by NYer
Dallas, Aug. 04 (CWNews.com) -
In his August 3 speech to a Dallas convention of the Knights of Columbus, President George W. Bush laid out his campaign appeal to Catholic Americans, who could form a crucial voting bloc in this year's presidential election.
In his address to 2,500 delegates of the Knights of Columbus, the nation's largest Catholic fraternal organization, the President said plainly: "You have a friend in this administration." But in making that statement, President Bush was certainly looking beyond the 1.4 million members of the Knights of Columbus, to the broader population of 66 million American Catholics.
Catholic voters, once heavily inclined to favor Democratic candidates, have shown more interest in Republicans in recent campaigns, particularly at the presidential level. The late Ronald Reagan was the first Republican presidential challenger to win a substantial majority of Catholic voters, capitalizing on the Catholic opposition to abortion and support for more conservative social and foreign policies. But Democrats have strengthened their appeal to Catholic voters in more recent elections, and in 2000 the Democratic candidate, Al Gore, narrowly defeated Bush, by 49 to 47 percent, in gaining Catholic votes.
In this year's election, the emergence of a Catholic, John Kerry, as the Democratic presidential candidate has complicated the task for White House political strategists. And the fact that Catholics have a particularly strong presence in several hotly contested "swing states" points toward an even more vigorous contest for Catholic votes.
Early polls have suggested that the "Catholic vote" is sharply divided, with practicing Catholics at odds with those who have drifted from the faith. President Bush holds a comfortable lead among those Catholics who attend Mass every Sunday, while Senator Kerry has a commanding advantage among those who only occasionally go to Mass.
In his 35-minute speech to the Knights of Columbus, President Bush placed his primary emphasis on his program to encourage faith-based organizations in service to the nation's needy. But he also mentioned several other key issues on which his stance is in line with Church teachings, including the questions of abortion, cloning, and same-sex marriage.
The President reminded the group of the welfare reforms his Administration, then continued::
But I believe one of the most effective ways our government can help those in need is to help the charities and community groups that are doing God's work every day. That's what I believe government ought to do. I believe government needs to stand on the side of faith-based groups, not against faith-based groups, when they come to saving lives.
Private organizations that work on the basis of religious faith can perform much more effectively than federal programs in helping the poor, Bush said, because "what government can never do is put love in a person's heart, or a sense of purpose in a person's life."
However, the President continued, many faith-based organizations are reluctant to seek government contracts, because, he said, "They're afraid of losing the ability to practice their faith." The President argued that government officials have put unnecessary restraints on religious groups, saying that their attitude reflected "a suspicious culture in Washington," with a built-in bias against religious institutions. President Bush said that his White House team is working to eliminate that suspicion, and enlist more religious groups to help address societal needs.
The President lavished praise on his hosts in Dallas, describing the Knights of Columbus as "soldiers in the armies of compassion," and lauding the group as a primary example of private charitable work. He observed that last year the Knights "raised and donated a record $130 million to charity."
Touching on another political theme of special interest to Catholic voters, Bush took note that the Knights of Columbus were also instrumental in setting up scholarship funds for students in the District of Columbia. As a result of those donations, the President said, "poor parents now have a choice. They'll have a $7,500 scholarship so they can afford to send their child to a private school or parochial school: their choice to make."
At the opening of his speech, Bush recalled his meeting in June with Pope John Paul II (bio - news)-- the third such meeting between the President and the Pontiff. He recalled that "being in his presence is an awesome experience," and reminded the group that he had presented the Holy Father with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Before concluding his remarks, the President listed several other issues on which he hopes to generate support among Catholic voters. He mentioned that he had supported and signed the bill banning partial-birth abortion, and that his Administration is now defending that law against constitutional challenges. He mentioned the Born Alive Infants Protection Act and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act-- two other pieces of legislation that have been enacted in the current Congress with heavy support from pro-life groups.
The President observed that his 2005 budget triples the amount of federal funding available for chastity-based programs in the schools. He promised to work for "a comprehensive and effective ban on human cloning." And he said: "I support a constitutional amendment to protect the sanctity of marriage by ensuring it is always recognized as the union of a man and woman as husband and wife."
It was a good speech to the KofC. Let's hope good things come from that.
I will vote for Bush but friends don't visit Bob Jones University.
Ya think the GOP will ever nominate a strong Catholic pro-lifer?
If they did, would the American Bishops support him/her?
And I'm referring to the Amchurch destroying him. The masses would simply follow along.
I should have written: "And I'm referring to the Amchurch hierarchy destroying him BECAUSE he is so conservative and orthodox."
I write this because I believe the Amchurch hierarchy is mostly liberal Democrat.
I recently read where a survey showed 75% of Priests in Chicago are registered Democrat.
Moreover the Amchurch hierarchy is currently undermining Church teaching on Catholic Civic responsibility and confusing the Kerry & other Pro-Abort Pols issue--again because IMO they WANT Kerry to win.
They're crying crocodile tears that Kerry is a pro-abort but IMO they actually believe his other "good qualities" outweigh that "pesky issue" and that Kerry is the better man for the job than Bush.
Americans are not going to elect a man to the presidency who is cutting his political teeth on the highest office in the land.
Bush is closer to my values than Kerry, even though he is not a Catholic. Kerry is one of those 'Catholics in name only' types--all who make me puke. Might as well be a Wiccan for all I have in common with him.
Shoot, I wouldn't vote for Kerry to command Tootie the Tugboat in my neighbor's children's bathtub!
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