The title of Mitt Romney’s August 9 campaign ad, “Be Not Afraid,” was obviously intentional, a tip of the hat to Pope John Paul II’s favored words of Jesus. The ad itself was aimed at the important Catholic voting bloc, which supported Barack Obama by a margin of 54-45% in 2008.

Romney’s choice of Catholic Paul Ryan as his running mate is also partially intended to woo Catholics. As a social and fiscal conservative, Ryan draws a sharp contrast to pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-Obamacare Catholic Vice President Joe Biden.

Politico goes in-depth today on Obama’s vulnerability among Catholics this go-around:

No one doubted the Roman Catholic vote would be up for grabs in November, even before Mitt Romney named Paul Ryan as his running mate.

Now, the selection of Ryan, the first Catholic ever nominated for national office by Republicans, all but guarantees a fierce election-year fight for the affections of Catholic voters – or more specifically, white Catholics, who form the bulk of the Catholic vote here in this corner of Iowa and across the Rust Belt.

Four years ago, there wasn’t much of a fight. President Barack Obama won Iowa Catholics, about a quarter of the electorate, by what the exit polls showed was an 18% margin.

Yet there are signs in Dubuque, an overwhelmingly Catholic and traditionally Democratic stronghold of 58,000 on the banks of the Mississippi River, that suggest the president’s support is much softer than last time.

In part, it’s a reflection of the general erosion in the president’s support, but it’s also because of tensions between the administration and the Catholic Church over a federal mandate, which went into effect Aug. 1, that forces employers, including the Church, to cover contraceptive services in health plans….

“In places like Dubuque, being Catholic is not just about religion,” [Catholic Sara Fagen, former political advisor to President George W. Bush] said. “It’s about their culture. For some, it’s an attack on their beliefs in pro-life issues. For some, it’s an attack on freedom of religion. Yet for many people in towns like Dubuque, it’s an attack on our culture.”…

The Romney campaign, however, has stepped up its national efforts to win over Catholics. The candidate visited the Pope John Paul II memorial while in Poland last month, and a clip of Romney quoting the late pope appears in an ad released Thursday that suggests Obama does not share the “values” of Catholics.

The administration still has some work to do to win over white Catholics nationally, though. While a Pew Research Center poll published last week showed Obama leading 51% to 42% among Catholics, that figure was inflated by Obama’s wide percentage among Latino Catholics in noncompetitive states. Among white Catholics, many of whom are clustered in the Rust Belt, Romney led Obama 49% to 44%.

Here’s that Romney ad, released in response to the recent slew of ads Obama has released attacking Romney on his pro-life stance and opposition to taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood


[Photo via The Daily Beast]

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