EDITOR’S NOTE: CV is happy to include a new entry in our “Five Questions” series. Today we feature an interview with Joseph Cella, chief liaison to the Trump campaign for Catholic affairs. Cella is founder of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast and also a co-founder of Fidelis (which became CatholicVote). He spoke with CatholicVote’s Joshua Mercer.
Donald Trump has been much more successful in getting evangelical leaders and evangelical voters to support his campaign. But it’s a different story with Catholics. Both Catholic leaders and Catholic voters have shown considerable reluctance to support Trump’s campaign. What can Trump do to win over skeptical Catholics who might otherwise be willing to vote for a Republican presidential candidate?
Mr. Trump can, and is, winning the support of Catholics by continuing to highlight the stark differences between his support of issues and policies that are of greatest concern to Catholics such as such as religious liberty, Supreme Court nominations, schools of choice, home schooling and ending Common Core, pro-life legislation, and an uplifting and empowering economic agenda.
This is in stark contrast to Hillary Clinton who is openly hostile to these issues and will attack the core teachings of the Church, and has worked against them as First Lady, as US Senator and as Secretary of State, and would continue to do so if she is elected president.
Donald Trump has surrounded himself with good people. He nominated stalwart pro-lifer Mike Pence as his running mate. Then he placed pro-life Catholic Kellyanne Conway as his Campaign Manager. Trump then entrusted Marjorie Dannenfelser to bring in pro-life support, and he enlists you — a co-founder of CatholicVote — to help him win Catholic support. Stephen Herreid wrote an article here at CatholicVote suggesting that Trump’s campaign ended up becoming more pro-life than Trump himself. And Herreid said: “Allow me to suggest an option for pro-life voters who still hesitate to support Trump: Support his campaign instead. Vote Pence. Vote Conway. Vote Dannenfelser.” Could that work for Catholics?
Earlier this year Mr. Trump convened an informal group of distinguished and respected Catholic advisors who have vast experience in working for, in and with the Catholic Church as he wanted to listen to them and learn and know what the issues and policies of greatest importance to Catholics are, because he knows and values these as important things and he and Mr. Pence speak accordingly about their support of these issues and policies on the campaign trail. The Catholic Advisory Group, which publicly launched last week has provided keen insights to Mr. Trump. He greatly appreciates their work and maintains open lines of communication with them as a part of the recently launched Catholic Advisory Group.
Catholics should vote for the Trump/Pence ticket because they will fight for and with Catholics on the issues and policies of greatest importance to them. Whereas, Hillary Clinton is openly hostile to those issues and policies of greatest concerns to Catholics, and will attack the core teachings of the Church, just as she did as First Lady, U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, and would continue to do so if she is elected President.
The Trump campaign Friday released an additional list of names of people he might select for the Supreme Court. What do you make of these potential nominees?
I know individuals on the first and second lists of potential Supreme Court nominees and know them to be distinguished jurists who honor the Constitution by interpreting the law rather than legislating from the bench.
These prospective nominees are in the mold of Justice Thomas and the late Justice Scalia, based on their judicial temperaments and rulings during their careers.
Something unique to note is that it is the time in the history of presidential elections that a Republican nominee has presented specific names of prospective nominees to the electorate. I think it is particularly important because Mr. Trump has further sharpened the contrast between his and Hillary Clinton’s view of the Constitution and the role the Supreme Court plays on the most pressing issues of our day.
Some people might agree with Trump on a need to shake up Washington or might support his stance on helping blue collar workers. But there remains a concern about whether Trump can act presidential. What can Trump do to assure suburban voters that he’s ready to be the leader of the free world?
Any assurances needed can be had in considering Mr. Trump’s successful and productive meetings he has had with world leaders such as Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, Mexican President Enrique Nieto-Pena and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, among others. And in the meetings Mr. Trump has discussed a wide range of issues including the strategic bi-lateral relationships with the United States, trade, and security threats.
Additionally, it is evident through the meetings of Trump’s national security advisory committee he has convened, which is chaired by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and also through Mr. Trump’s engagement in periodic classified intelligence briefings about threats and emerging concerns around the globe, where he is accompanied by General Mike Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
A Washington Poll-ABC poll back in August showed Donald Trump trailing Hillary Clinton by 6 points among white Catholics. A new poll out Sunday shows Trump is now surging among white Catholics, with a 24-point lead. What has changed since August?
First, the new ABC News/Washington Post poll confirms anecdotes from the ground showing Catholics are breaking to Mr. Trump, as well as undecideds.
Second, it is quite typical for voters to dial into who the candidates are, their principles, what they are saying, and their positions on issues and policies in the final weeks of the election, and we are now 43 days out, so it is quite consistent with that.
Third, Mr. Trump has been directly speaking to the voters about his support of issues and policies that are of greatest concern to Catholics such as religious liberty, Supreme Court nominations, schools of choice, home schooling and ending Common Core, pro-life legislation, and an uplifting and empowering economic agenda, and it is beginning to resonate.
Catholics are beginning to see the stark contrast with Hillary Clinton, who is openly hostile to these issues and will attack the core teachings of the Church, and has worked against them as First Lady, as US Senator and as Secretary of State, and would continue to do so if she is elected president.