catholicstuff.jpgSteve Waldman notes that the attacks on Joe Biden’s Catholic bona fides came fast and furious after he was named Obama’s running mate on Saturday.
But there’s little doubt that Biden’s Catholicism was a major factor in Obama’s decision to pick him. A well-placed source close to the campaign tells God-o-Meter that “the fact that [Biden’s]a proud and committed Catholic was definitely a big plus… the guy’s the real deal.” The source emailed GOM this 2007 Christian Science Monitor profile, which likely means that Obama’s Catholic outreach team will be mailing out to Catholic opinion-shapers everywhere.
It’s no secret that Obama has a Catholic problem. God-o-Meter riffed on the numbers from a Quinnipiac polls just a few weeks ago:

In both Florida and Ohio, Obama’s losing white Catholics to McCain by 52-percent to 40-percent. That’s not an insignificant gap. (In Pennsylvania, white Catholics are evenly split between the Democratic and Republican candidates.) It’s not as dramatic as the gap in 2004, when John Kerry lost white Ohio Catholics (one in four Buckeye State voters) to President Bush 59-41 and lost Florida Catholics 59-41. But the difference from 2004 says more about Catholic uncertainty about John McCain than any increase in Catholic support for Obama.

Most of the candidates on Obama’s short list for veep were Catholics: Biden, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. So Obama knows he has a Catholic problem. After John Kerry–a Catholic–lost the Catholic vote in 2004, Democrats are paying a lot closer to that problem. The thing to watch for this week is whether and how Biden responds to the attacks from conservative Catholic groups and whether actual Catholic bishops join the fray. Kerry’s failure to respond to attacks from those two camps made it seem like he was running against the Catholic church rather than as a member of it.


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