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God-O-Meter

roemer.jpgAs Barack Obama ramps up Catholic outreach in advance of the Pennsvylania primary this month, former Indiana Congressman Tim Roemer will be one of his key surrogates for Catholic audiences. God-o-Meter caught up with Roemer recently by phone.
As a member of the 9/11 Committee, it’s no surprise that you’re helping Obama on national security issues. But Catholic outreach?
I’m trying to wear a few hats on the campaign—Catholic outreach, national security, and doing some super-delegate counting. It’s just a host of different things. Surrogate campaigning, too. I did some outreach for him in Ohio and in Indiana and I’m heading up to Pennsylvania.
In the Ohio primary, Hillary Clinton won Catholics by more than 25 percentage points. A new Gallup poll shows she has a commanding lead over Obama among Catholics nationally. What explains her advantage?
The more time the Senator has with voters, the more they like him and the more they vote for him. We did very well with the Catholic vote in states like Wisconsin, Virginia, and Louisiana. And as he spends more time in Pennsylvania, we’re going to do extremely well there and make up for the big advantages in name recognition that Clinton has.
You look at results in states where we had the time and spent adequate hours and days and we do just great with Catholic voters. They are very similar to the other votes in their states, concerned about NAFTA, passed during the Clinton administration, which shipped jobs out of their communities, and access to health care, and trying to make sure they have opportunities to get good educations for their children.
How big a role will Catholics play in deciding this election?
We’ve heard about the silent majority being they key vote and soccer moms and it just might be in 2008 that it’s the Catholic vote that’s the key. There are 65 to 70 million Catholics and they’re the swing vote many times. They are often somewhat independent, conservative socially and make up big voting blocs in key electoral states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Missouri.
How do you reconcile our pro-life views with supporting a pro-choice candidate like Obama?
I am a pro-life Democrat. I believe that just as Democrats are active and concerned about reaching the hungry and homeless and people without healthcare, we should also be the party that reduces the number of abortions in the United States. I believe that Senator Obama is concerned about this issue. He talks about it in terms of being a moral dilemma that consequentially has some tragic outcomes.
There is legislation that has been introduced in Congress that sends a very powerful message about reducing the number of abortions with a two-part approach. One is trying to prevent unwanted pregnancies from occurring in the first place through contraception and prevention and counseling on the sacredness of sex. Second is the very powerful tack of economic empowerment and assisting women when they find themselves pregnant, to help them bring that life into the world with economic assistance and tax incentives and reducing the cost of adoption and making sure there’s health care support out there to help women who decide to carry that life to term.
That [legislation] has the potential to bring people together in the future. Obama talks about ways to unite people and not be dragged won in the paralysis of gridlock. So maybe this is the way to reduce the tragic number of abortions.
Have you asked Obama whether he supports that abortion-reduction legislation?
I’ve talked to him about a host of different things, that kind of issue and national security issues. It goes back to why I decided to support Obama. I decided to because of his good judgment and common sense on national security issues and faith-based issues. Here’s somebody who made the right call on the Iraq war, and who’s clearly interested in making sure we don’t got to war needlessly. Here’s somebody who is comfortable with his faith and knows that faith is absolutely important to him in his personal life and helps instruct his decision making in the public arena.


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