May 24, 2012
Amid polls showing that his efforts to regulate religious institutions have hurt his image among Catholics, President Barack Obama has begun touting his early ties to the church.
“My first job as a community organizer was with Catholic churches who taught me the power of kindness and commitment to others in neighborhoods,” he declared at a Hollywood fundraiser May 23.
“When I was a young community organizer, I was working with Catholic churches and they taught me that no government program can make as much of a difference as kindness and commitment on the part of neighbors and friends,” he said at a Colorado fundraiser earlier that day.
This new emphasis on his ties to the Catholic Church is a change from Obama’s previous speeches and fundraisers, where he did not mention that, early in his career, he was funded and supported by liberal Catholic officials in Chicago.
His Chicago supporters included a radical Catholic priest, Father Michael Pfleger, who has since been admonished by senior church officials for political advocacy.
Obama’s emphasis on his Catholic ties come as polls show a sharp drop in his support among swing-voting Catholics in battleground states after his February imposition of regulations on churches.
An April poll from Pew reported that Obama’s approval among non-Hispanic Catholics dropped from 45 percent in March to 37 percent in April, while support for Romney rose from 51 percent to 57 percent. That shift could swing the decision in critical swing-states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania.