August 23rd, 2012
07:29 PM ET

Romney playing to win with Catholic vote

OutFront tonight – Mitt's big bet.


Well, not exactly me. But there's something about me that might actually help Mitt win the White House. Now those of you who watch the show know that we've criticized both candidates for a variety of reasons, so this isn't taking sides.

But the fact is, I'm catholic. And Catholics are the second largest religious group in the United States. And almost a third of the voters in the 2008 presidential election were – you guessed it – catholic.

No presidential candidate has won the White House without winning the Catholic vote since at least 1972, with one exception – that much-contested race of 2000.

What's complicated is that Catholics don't always vote Democratic or Republican. In 2008, they went for President Obama, but in 2004, they went for President Bush.

So this year, like most years, the Catholic vote is up for grabs again, and Mitt Romney isn't going to let this opportunity slip through his fingers.

Exhibit A: the highest ranking Catholic in the United States will be front and center at the republican national convention next week. Cardinal Timothy Dolan - the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York – will deliver the benediction the very night Romney accepts the nomination.

Dolan's spokesman says it isn't an endorsement – he'd accept the same invitation to pray at the Democrats' convention. But the inconvenient fact is that Dolan's archdiocese is one of more than 40 Catholic organizations suing the Obama administration over its mandate requiring health plans to cover the cost of contraception.

Dolan is also a friend of mitt's running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, who's a Roman Catholic too. And Ryan and Dolan are actually good friends from Dolan's time as Archbishop of Ryan's home parish – Milwaukee – from 2002 to 2009.

And remember mitt's big trip overseas? He made a big show of stopping in Poland, and spent a lot of time talking about Pope John Paul II, their native son. He later used that trip in a campaign ad attacking President Obama for a "war on religion." Why? more than 96 percent of Polish citizens are Roman Catholic.

Here in the U.S., Catholics can make all the difference in some very important swing states.

First, Catholics make up one-third of the vote in Paul Ryan's home state of Wisconsin, and Obama won their support by a 6 point margin in 2008.

In Florida, it was an even tighter race, as Catholics made up 28 percent of the vote there and the President won their support by just one point.

And then there's New Hampshire. Catholics made up nearly 40 percent of the vote in that state four years ago, and the split between the candidates was exactly 50-50.


Filed under: Deconstruct • Election 2012 • Politics • Religion
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