Tuesday, July 15, 2008

McCain Campaign Plans "Very Aggressive" Outreach to Catholic Voters

(Hat tip: Opinionated Catholic)

Looks like McCain's Catholic outreach people have finally decided they need to get serious. At this point, however, they'll be playing catch-up to Obama's extensive Catholic outreach efforts:
John McCain is preparing to ramp up his efforts to reach out to Catholic voters with a “very, very aggressive” campaign, spearheaded by his newly created Catholic Outreach Coalition, reports Catholic News Agency.

Frank Donatelli, the Deputy Chairman of the Republican National Committee, spoke to reporters and Catholic media on a conference call this morning about the efforts that the McCain campaign is planning to reach Catholic voters.

Donatelli described the Catholic Outreach Coalition, chaired by Sen. Sam Brownback and Frank Keating, as “first-rate” and said that it will be “very well-funded.”

Calling McCain’s Catholic campaign "very, very aggressive," Donatelli said it will involve literature, sending speakers to parishes and Catholic gatherings, a direct mail program and statements by Sen. McCain on issues of concern to Catholics.

The coalition plans to explain to Catholic voters how McCain is a stalwart opponent of abortion, has a strong appreciation for the social conscience of the world and that he is in favor of an immigration policy that defends the nation’s borders but also is humane in its treatment of illegal immigrants.

***
As has been noted in the past, one issue that John McCain differs with Catholic teaching on is his position on embryonic stem cell research. CNA recently discovered a description on the McCain campaign’s website that says:

“As president, John McCain will strongly support funding for promising research programs, including amniotic fluid and adult stem cell research and other types of scientific study that do not involve the use of human embryos.”


[More]
My Comments:
It may be too little, too late.

And McCain's Catholic outreach people better be ready to explain how McCain's position on Iraq (and, potentially, Iran) can be squared with what a great many Catholics believe is a failure to properly apply just war principles.

And they need to honestly address McCain's shortcomings on issues like ESCR and marriage protection (and, thereby, hold his feet to the fire) where McCain's record in the Senate leaves much to be desired.

Finally, they should also be prepared to highlight McCain's excellent record on opposing torture (in addition to his views on immigration mentioned in the above article), which has been closer to the Church's position than what other Republicans have been advocating, especially since the Obama Catholics are attempting to use issues like torture and immigration as a means of offsetting their candidate's deficiencies on other pro-life matters.

Suffice it to say, I don't believe McCain's Catholic outreach people will be nearly as reticent as Obama's Catholic outreach people have been in reaching out to Catholic media outlets to explain their candidate's positions.

But they sure have piddled around long enough in getting the ball rolling.

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5 Comments:

At 7/15/2008 5:23 PM, Blogger Bender said...

Catholic Outreach Coalition??

Whatever happened to the much ballyhooed "National Catholics for McCain Committee" that was announced to much fanfare back in March?

That went nowhere fast.

As for "sending speakers to parishes"? If that is part of their plan, it is abundantly clear that these folks know precious little about the Catholic Church. The parish is no place for electoral politics, and even putting flyers on peoples cars in the parking lot will raise the opposition of parish pastors and bishops. Political speakers at parishes? Not allowed.

Besides, if McCain were such a great appeal to Catholic voters, it would have been apparent already. He would not need spin or "outreach."

 
At 7/16/2008 1:05 AM, Blogger Christopher said...

And McCain's Catholic outreach people better be ready to explain how McCain's position on Iraq (and, potentially, Iran) can be squared with what a great many Catholics believe is a failure to properly apply just war principles.

On Iraq, I'm curious exactly how McCain's present policy on Iraq fails to properly apply just war principles?

 
At 7/16/2008 4:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point Christopher, many Catholic accuse Mr. McCain of backing an unjust war, but they fail to point out why this was is unjust. Perhaps they can tell us what is a just war.

OHIO JOE

 
At 7/16/2008 7:36 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

"I'm curious exactly how McCain's present policy on Iraq fails to properly apply just war principles?"

I'm not sure it does. But there are plenty of Catholics to whom McCain's campaign needs to do a better job of making the case. To date, Obama's Catholic supporters have been talking "Iraq, Iraq, Iraq" with impunity as the McCain Catholic team has dawdled and haven't bothered making his case on Iraq. If he loses the Catholic vote, it will most likely be on this issue.

 
At 7/16/2008 8:41 AM, Blogger Christopher said...

To date, Obama's Catholic supporters have been talking "Iraq, Iraq, Iraq" with impunity as the McCain Catholic team has dawdled and haven't bothered making his case on Iraq. If he loses the Catholic vote, it will most likely be on this issue.

That's true -- they could start by referring to the recommendation of the Bishops recommendation that

"Our nation's military forces should remain in Iraq only so long as their presence contributes to a responsible transition. Our nation
should look for effective ways to end their deployment at the earliest
opportunity consistent with this goal."

and that this objective can be served more by the strategies that McCain has supported since 2007 than Obama's plan for immediate withdrawal. As the McCain campaign points out, Obama is changing his tune on Iraq to reflect McCain's, even going to far as to scrub his campaign website of earlier remarks about Iraq. From the McCain campaign:

Where Obama once pledged to "immediately begin to withdraw troops from Iraq," he now promises a "responsible, safe withdrawal." And where he once labeled the surge as the primary problem in Iraq, he now blames President Bush for a "failure to hold the Iraqi government accountable."

Obama still denigrates the progress brought about by the surge, but while Obama diminishes the American contribution to the improved security environment (thus minimizing his own bad judgment in opposing the strategy), he credits "the decision of many Sunnis to turn against al Qaeda in Iraq, and a lull in Shia militia activity." All true, but it's also obvious that neither of those things would have happened without the surge. Though the Anbar Awakening began in late 2006, it's ludicrous to think that it would have been sustained despite the unilateral withdrawal Obama proposed at the time. Likewise, the Maliki government would not have been capable of confronting the Shiite militias without having first dealt with the problem of al Qaeda.


Obama launched a new website, ran an op-ed in the New York Times, and deliver a major speech on Iraq outlining his policy -- all before heading to Iraq. ABC News on the other hand went to Iraq and interviewed the commanders on the ground to discern their thoughts about Obama's promise to "immediately remove our troops from Iraq, one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months." U.S. military leaders expressed their doubt as to the feasibility of such a strategy.

The current debate over Iraq (on timetables and policy) is one of prudential judgement -- however, my hunch is that regardless of what's said "on the ground" some Catholics will wrongly insist that nothing less than a policy of "immediate withdrawal" is demanded by the Bishops and even the Pope himself.

 

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