The Man Behind the GOP's Catholic Strategy

A Catholic inside-baseball story turns huge. Why? Because it involves the presidential election.

Continued from page 1

. Ordinarily, about 20 percent of voters are undecided in the summer before a presidential election. And most critically, a large number of those undecideds are Catholics living in the swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, according to religion and politics expert John Green.

Hudson--a 1982 convert to Catholicism who grew up Southern Baptist in Texas--was the man who told Republican leaders how to connect to Catholic voters. William Donohue, president of the

Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

, told the New York Times that Hudson played an almost indispensable role for the White House. "He had become the point man,'' Donohue said. "If you wanted to get something to the top inner circles of the White House from a Catholic perspective, you could contact Deal Hudson and it was delivered."

Political analyst Green told Beliefnet on Friday that "Hudson's resignation may matter in terms of the effort to get conservative Catholics to turnout and vote for Bush in large numbers." On the other hand, Green said, "the groundwork may well have been prepared sufficiently already."

Contacted for comment on Friday, Hudson declined, saying in a statement through his spokeswoman that he "deeply regrets the incident that happened while he was at Fordham University. However, he is still bound by his confidentiality agreement regarding the matter."

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According to a story published Aug. 19 in the

National Catholic Reporter

, Hudson surrendered his tenure as a philosophy professor at Fordham in 1994, following allegations of an inappropriate sexual relationship with a freshman female student. He also paid a settlement of $30,000 to terminate a lawsuit that the student brought against him on the basis of the allegations.

Hudson wrote in the

National Review Online

this week that he believes the allegations are "being dug up ...for political reasons in an attempt to undermine the causes I have fought for: the defense of Church teachings on life, the priesthood, the authority of the pope, and the need for faithful Catholic participation in politics."

Donohue agreed, releasing a

statement
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Deborah Caldwell
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