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God-O-Meter

flynn.jpgRaymond Flynn was U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican under President Bill Clinton and, before that, Mayor of Boston. In recent years, the lifelong Democrat has been an advocate for the poor and for social conservative causes, which has sometimes put him at odds with his own party. He backed Mitt Romney for governor of Massachusetts and George W. Bush for president in 2000, telling the Boston Globe, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me.” God-o-Meter contacted Flynn after reading a news item that mentioned he appeared at a Pennsylvania event for Hillary Clinton in the run-up to this week’s primary there.
How did you come to support Senator Clinton?
I’m a lifelong Democrat, not that I vote for every Democrat regardless of who their opponent is…. The tradition of the Democratic Party is the party that stood up for working class and poor people. I’m strongly pro-life, I’m pro-family, and pro-poor. I supported George Bush in 2000 for president but I’m supporting Hillary Clinton in this election because I strongly believe that she would be best for the country.
You’ve spent the last several years as a pro-life, anti-gay marriage advocate. How did you reconcile those views with supporting Clinton?
I disagree with Senator Clinton on the abortion issue, obviously. I’m strongly pro-life. But in the final analysis I support the person who is best for the country. She has a record of commitment to healthcare for all Americans, I know her values as a Methodist person who believes strongly in her faith….
I strongly support traditional marriage and so does Senator Clinton. There is not one candidate I totally agree with on all the issues. I didn’t’ agree with George Bush on 90-percent of the issues. But I’m not a blindly loyal Democrat or Republican. I vote for what my conscience dictates.
Did the Clinton campaign wage a serious effort for your endorsement?
Not really. I was the Grand Marshall in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade last year and I met Senator Clinton in New York and she said “I need a good fighter for the poor on my team and I’d appreciate if you help with that.” That was the extent of it.
How involved do you plan to be in her campaign?
I would help her as much as I’m able. I was pretty tied up with the Pope’s visit and I do a lot of public speaking. Tomorrow I’m speaking to 2,000 New York City police officers at St. Patrick’s in New York and then I’m heading to Cleveland and speaking to Catholics. I do a lot of speaking to pro-life groups and Catholic groups.
Do you mention your support for Senator Clinton at those kinds of events?
When I’m asked about it privately after the events. But I don’t make those events political.
Have you caught flack for supporting Clinton from your pro-life allies?
I don’t work for any group or for the church. I’m my own person. I had more people upset for supporting George Bush. I received a tremendous amount of flack for that.
What explains the Catholic support for Clinton in Pennsylvania this week, where she won Catholics by two-to-one?
I wasn’t surprised. On the issues that are really important to Catholics—health care, children, and families—Clinton has a long record of experience. If it weren’t for the abortion issue I think she would have received an even greater of percentage of Catholics voting for her.
How are the other campaigns—Obama and McCain—doing in terms of Catholic outreach?
I’ve seen no evidence whatsoever of Senator Obama reaching out to Catholic groups or Catholics. Maybe I haven’t paid close enough attention to it. And I’ve seen no evidence of John McCain reaching out to Catholics or Catholic groups at this time. I probably talk to more Catholics than anybody in the country.
Considering your past support for President Bush, would you consider supporting John McCain in the general election?
I haven’t reached that point yet. We’re talking about the Democratic primary here and John McCain isn’t on the ballot…. I would say Catholics would go with Senator Clinton over Senator McCain, because on a whole range of social and economic issues, people feel very comfortable with Senator Clinton. Catholics are working class people. They’re struggling with economy and with jobs and education for their kids.
I feel far more comfortable with Senator McCain than with just about any other Republican, particularly because of his stand on immigration. That was courageous and he was severely criticized for it. We’ll see what happens now, since he almost lost the Republican nomination as a result of being criticized for that.
Your supported Bush in 2000. Did you support John Kerry in 2004?
I didn’t get involved at all. I was doing a radio talk show for Catholic TV and Catholic radio, and I made a commitment that I would not publicly state who I was supporting.


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