Obama Catholics Will Influence New Administration

Article excerpt

Catholics, who gave 54 percent of their vote to the Democratic presidential nominee, were an essential element in the Obama victory. His campaign strategists knew it would be the case: Obama's was the first-ever Democratic presidential campaign to mount an outreach effort directed specifically to Catholics. Meanwhile, grass-roots groups such as "Catholics for Obama" helped make the case for Obama to their coreligionists. One result: The Catholic presence will be felt at the highest echelons of government over the next four years, including from Vice President-elect Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Some Catholics will likely be more equal than others in an Obama administration. Among them will be Obama supporters who took a chance, who backed Obama during the Democratic primaries when they could have remained silent without political consequence or who bring a level of expertise the new president is likely to find useful.

Among them:

* Pennsylvania Sen. Robert Casey: Son of the late and legendary pro-life governor, the Scranton-born and -bred Casey lent his credibility to Obama at a key moment, endorsing him prior to his state's primary. Obama lost that contest to Hillary Clinton, but Casey's support, and his popularity with white working-class antiabortion voters, was essential to Obama's big general election win in the Keystone State.

* Caroline Kennedy: The 51-year-old daughter of the nation's 35th president was charged by Obama with one of his campaign's most sensitive tasks--vetting possible vice presidential candidates. That process was, by all accounts, smoothly administered, resulting in the choice of Sen. Joe Biden, a Catholic, as Obama's running mate. Kennedy endorsed Obama in January 2008 in a New York Times op-ed piece. Among the posts for which Kennedy has been mentioned is ambassador to the Court of St. James, a job her grandfather, Joseph P. Kennedy, held under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or ambassador to the United Nations.

* Douglas Kmiec: The Pepperdine University law professor and onetime supporter of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign offered his rationale for backing Obama in a campaign book, Can A Catholic Support Him? …