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Losing Catholics Bigly, Trump Campaign Announces Catholic Advisory Board With Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum

Donald Trump
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the first debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. |

Republican Party nominee Donald Trump's campaign recently announced the creation of a Catholic advisory group that will assist the presidential hopeful to appeal to Catholics.

In an announcement posted to his campaign website last week, the Trump campaign provided a list of advisory group members, which include former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, longtime conservative activist Richard Viguerie, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, veteran Republican strategist Mary Matalin, and Congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin.

In a statement released as part of the announcement, Congressman Duffy argued that if elected president Trump "will fight for Catholics."

U.S. Supreme Court
Father Frank Pavone (L) and the Rev. Patrick Mahoney pray at the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court as arguments begin to challenge the Affordable Care Act's requirement that employers provide coverage for Plan B and EllaOne morning after and week after pills and abortion-inducing drugs as part of an employee's healthcare, in Washington, March 25, 2014. |

"On the issues and policies of greatest concern to Catholics, Donald Trump will fight for Catholics whereas Hillary Clinton is openly hostile to those issue of greatest concern to Catholics and will attack the core teachings of the Catholic Church," stated Duffy.

"Catholics are particularly concerned that she would pack the Supreme Court with 3-5 young ideological liberals whose decisions will have far reaching and long lasting implication for the Catholic Church and the lay faithful on everything from the pro-life issue, to religious liberty to health care and educational mandates, just to name a few."

Priests for Life National Director Fr. Frank Pavone, another member of the advisory group, told The Christian Post in an interview on Tuesday that he agreed not only to be part of the advisory group, but also Trump's pro-life coalition.

"It is critically important for campaigns to reach out to Catholic voters because the Catholic population does exercise a significant influence in each election -- even though Catholics do not vote as a 'bloc' and that has not been the goal of the Church," said Pavone.

"I do think that also this year there is more confusion than usual about what the Church actually teaches about political responsibility, which is why one of my key priorities in my advisory role is to bring to the attention both of the campaign and of the voters the US Bishops' document 'Living the Gospel of Life'."

Pavone also explained to CP that while advisory group membership did not necessarily mean that one endorses Trump, he himself was planning to vote for the Republican nominee.

"I believe the campaign is also aware that the Democratic party will attempt to make voters think that they are more in line with the Catholic Faith than is the Republican party," continued Pavone.

"But unless one turns upside-down the bishops' teachings about the right to life as the foundation of the house, that argument doesn't stand."

The Trump campaign's creation of a Catholic advisory group comes as the Donald struggles to get the support of the Catholic community that previous Republican nominees enjoyed.

In August, the Washington Post blog The Fix noted that Trump has a "massive Catholic problem," with polls putting him over 20 percentage points behind Clinton.

"Back in 2012, GOP nominee Mitt Romney lost the Catholic vote by just 2 points, 50 percent to 48 percent. And the GOP has actually won the Catholic vote as recently as 2004," noted The Fix.

"But Trump trails among Catholics by a huge margin. A new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute released this week shows him down 23 points, 55-32. A Washington Post-ABC News poll released earlier this month painted an even worse picture for Trump's Catholic support. He was down by 27 points, 61-34."

When asked by CP about how Trump can close this gap in Catholic support, Pavone replied that he believed one way for Trump to do so was to focus "on the ways in which the Democratic Party contradicts Catholic teaching on so many essential points."

"When it comes to the sanctity of life, marriage, family, and religious freedom, it is not only that the party has the wrong policies, but it abandons the principles underlying those policies," said Pavone.

"The fact that the Catholic Church -- and groups like Priests for Life and the Little Sisters of the Poor -- are fighting the Obama Administration against the HHS mandate can be a strong wake-up call for Catholics concerned about the Church's freedom to carry out her mission."

Follow Michael Gryboski on Facebook: michael.gryboski Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter: MichaelGryboskiCP

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