By John-Henry Westen

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2008 ( – Frank Donatelli, deputy chair of the Republican National Committee, spoke with Catholic journalists of the orthodox stripe today about McCain and the Catholic vote.  The conference call was graciously hosted by Deal Hudson, director of

“Senator McCain is very much in sympathy and compatible with Catholic voters,” began Donatelli. “He’s a cultural conservative, he believes very strongly in values.  On the issue of the right to life, he is a very strong supporter of the right to life and has voted that way for 20-plus years in Congress.”

But it was the Q&A session which followed the introductory remarks that was most interesting.  Author and Catholic activist Dawn Eden, just about to embark on her plane to cover World Youth Day in Australia, led with a question asking why McCain did not give more emphasis to Obama’s radical abortion stand, which includes opposition even to sustaining the lives of children who are born live after abortion procedures fail to kill the child in utero.

Donatelli suggested McCain has done so and will continue to.  “While we’ve tried to stick to Senator McCain’s positive credentials, there could be no more pro-abortion opponent for Senator McCain then Senator Obama…far to the left of where most Americans are,” he said. asked why, when McCain appeared on the Ellen Degeneres show in May, he seemed unwilling to defend his stand against homosexual “marriage.”  (see coverage: )

“First off, he was kind of being a gentleman in a sense,” replied Donatelli.  “You know where they’re coming from for obvious reasons and I think what he was trying to do was just not get into a long discussion on that. He tried to cut her off and say let’s not go there, we just don’t agree with that.  He didn’t want the whole show to be a discussion on that one issue with somebody that had such strong views and was so outspoken on that.”

Turning to the marriage issue, Donatelli said that McCain’s position was very strongly in support of maintaining the definition of marriage, with his having worked against homosexual “marriage” initiatives both in Arizona and California.  He further noted that the choice between Obama and McCain on the issue was very clear.

No good answer was provided to a question on the Senator’s consistent support for embryonic stem cell research, a position which has seriously undermined his pro-life status for many.  Donatelli suggested that McCain is watching very carefully the scientific developments on the matter so that “we won’t have to go there.”  The scientific developments have shown uniformly, however, that embryonic stem cell research is a major loser, with no human treatments to date, while adult stem cell research has had dozens of successful applications.

On Vatican relations, Donatelli said: “Obviously Senator McCain has great respect for the Vatican and for the Holy Father.” He described the Senator as an “ally with the Vatican.”  Donatelli added, “The Holy Father is the great moral teacher of our time, and in my judgment Senator McCain takes his cue from the Pope on a lot of issues, there’s just lots of agreement there.”

One question focused on McCain’s support for conservative judges on the Supreme Court.  It was asked why McCain only mentioned Alito and Roberts as examples of conservative justices to his liking, rather than justices Thomas and Scalia.  “I don’t think it’s anything more than the fact that Obama voted against both of them,” replied Donatelli. 


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