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Catholic Advocate at RLC – Republican candidates must ‘ignite’ Catholics on life and marriage

6-21-11 Posted by Admin in Blog, Elections 0 Comments

The [Southern] Republican Leadership Conference (RLC) met June 16-18, 2011, in New Orleans. The RLC meets annually and is the largest gathering of Republicans apart from the national Republican Convention held every four years.  Catholic Advocate was invited to be a sponsor at the event and Deal W. Hudson, Catholic Advocate President, spoke on social issues during a panel hosted by the Susan B. Anthony List.

Over 2000 attendees listened to speakers including presidential hopefuls, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, Ron Paul, and Herman Cain. Both Catholic candidates, Santorum and Gingrich, were received warmly and enthusiastically by those attending the conference. Also speaking on Friday afternoon was the Catholic Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal and Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi.

Barbour, a former RNC chairman, said Republicans warned attendees from expecting a ‘perfect candidate’ for president in 2012.  Republicans, he said, should not demand ‘purity.’ Barbour did not explain what issues he was concerned about.  Similarly, when he said there should be no ‘litmus test’ for a GOP nominee two weeks ago at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference in DC, Barbour did not specifically mention if he meant a candidate’s position on life and marriage. At the conference in New Orleans, Barbour said, “You are going to disagree with something about the candidate,” he said.  Barbour argued concern for removing Obama from the office should be the overriding issue.

Later that day, Deal W. Hudson opened his remarks at the Susan B. Anthony List panel by saying:

“I don’t know what Gov. Barbour meant by ‘purity,’ but the GOP nominee must be pro-life and pro-marriage to attract Catholic voters and win back the White House in 2012.  It’s not a matter of demanding ‘purity’ from a candidate but rather a matter of expecting principle and prudence.  It’s a matter of principle because the Catholic Church teaches, and most Americans agree, that unborn life should be protected and that marriage is between a man and a woman.  It’s also a matter of political prudence because a nominee who is not pro-life and pro-marriage will not able to ignite the Catholics, evangelicals and other social conservatives at the grassroots whose commitment and passion will determine the outcome of the 2012 election.”

Hudson who led Catholic outreach for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 also described to the conference attendees the importance of reaching Mass-attending Catholic voters. The effort for George W. Bush resulted in a swing of 15% more Catholics voting for the GOP nominee. In 1996 only 35% of Catholic voted for Robert Dole compared to 50% of self-identified Catholics in 2004. The number of Mass-attending Catholics rose to nearly 57%. “That’s the kind of swing that changes the outcome of an election,” Hudson said.

Hudson urged every GOP candidate to include Catholic outreach in his or her coalition effort, discussed how the messaging to Catholics should be shaped, and described the issue priorities of religiously-active Catholic voters.

He concluded by saying that he and Catholic Advocate Vice President Matt Smith would make themselves available to any candidate who wanted to discuss mounting a successful Catholic outreach.

You can also read coverage of these remarks at Catholic News Agency.

Below is video of Deal’s remarks as aired on C-SPAN.

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