Friday, March 28, 2008

Obama Reaches Out to PA Catholics; Wins Endorsement from Senator Casey

Senator Barack Obama is making a strong outreach to Catholics in Pennsylvania. There is a "Catholics for Obama" organization in each diocese in the state (maybe the first time voters have been organized by diocese rather than civil jurisdiction). Senator Obama plans small round-table meetings and "listening sessions" with Catholic voters in Pennsylvania's urban and rural areas, as well as e-mails and phone banks targeting Catholics.

Also, former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer has been reaching out to fellow Catholics on the campaign's behalf in Pennsylvania.

The AP reports that:

"Since last year's election, the number of Democrats in Pennsylvania has increased by more than 161,000. The defectors include Catholics like Chris Molitoris, 22, who was a registered Republican but switched his party registration so he can vote in the Democratic primary for Obama.

Molitoris, who is from Plains near Scranton and is the student president at the University of Scranton, a Catholic Jesuit university, interned for Santorum's campaign two years ago. Like his Catholic parents, he says he's opposed to abortion, but he says he's more willing to consider a candidate who is not. He says he thinks Obama would best represent the United States on the world stage.

'I'm pro-life, but I don't want to look at just the pro-life issue alone to determine the quality of the candidate. I've taken more of, I guess, a holistic approach in looking at the whole entire package,' Molitoris said.

Christina Drogalis, 21, from Old Forge, is a Catholic and student at the same university. She supports Obama too.

'I think Hillary Clinton might have too much of a legacy. It sort of feels to me too much of the same old thing,' Drogalis said."


The biggest news among Pennsylvania Catholics is today's endorsement by Senator Bob Casey, Jr. The endorsement will come in Pittsburgh during a rally at the Soldiers and Sailors Military Museum and Memorial. Casey will then join Obama on part of a six day bus tour.

Other Pennsylvania supporters of Senator Obama include Roman Catholic Rep. Patrick Murphy and former Lt. Gov. Mark Singel, a Byzantine Catholic.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Casey sees Obama as an "underdog" in the campaign who sacrificed at the beginning of his career to be a community organizer "in the shadows of the closed steel mills in Chicago," said a source close to Casey who is familiar with the endorsement decision but was not authorized to speak publicly about it.

The source, reached by The Inquirer yesterday, said that Casey was also impressed with how Obama had stood up to the pressures of the campaign, including recent attacks over the racially incendiary remarks of his former pastor.

Prior to today's endorsement, Senator Casey commented about the campaign that "Those so-called Casey Democrats will be looking for a broad agenda on social justice, economic justice and a recognition by the candidate, by our nominee that he or she will be someone who can talk about their faith, but more important than that, can listen to them, listen to what their concerns are and also listen to them about their faith and their point of view."

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