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Bush Activates Right-Wing Base

In a speech to the conservative Knights of Columbus in Dallas yesterday, President Bush emphasized his opposition to issues such as abortion rights and same-sex marriage. Telling the Knights of Columbus, a 1.7-million-member Catholic men’s organization, that “you have a friend in this administration,” Bush pledged to work with the Knights to “defend the sacred bond of marriage” and thanked them for “promoting the culture of life” and “defen[ding] the traditional family.” Bush’s speech to the Knights of Columbus was an attempt to win over Catholic voters, which in the last election narrowly supported Gore, the Washington Post reports. NPR yesterday reported that Bush met with the Pope in early June, asking him to put pressure on members of the Catholic hierarchy to “more aggressively push Catholics toward É activism on É social issues” such as same-sex marriage and abortion rights, according to Tom Roberts, editor of the National Catholic Reporter. The Republican National Committee has also “asked Catholics who are active in the Bush campaign to get them parish directories and membership lists,” Roberts told NPR. Catholic voters make up 25 percent of the electorate, NPR reports. Though the Knights is a charitable organization that is forbidden from endorsing political candidates, Bush’s entrance was marked with chants of “Four more years!” Bush spent much of his speech praising the Knights of Columbus for their charitable work and their support of his work in the White House. He also said that he was proud that his brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, became a member of the Knights a few years ago. Bush also emphasized his work to establish federal grants to assist “faith-based” charities. Bush signed an executive order in 2002 allowing religious charities to apply for federal grants and establishing the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives (headed by Knights of Columbus member Jim Towey). LEARN MORE Click here to read women’s narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services. DONATE to protect the right to a safe, legal abortion

Sources:

Bush speech 8/3/04; Washington Post 8/3/04; NPR 8/3/04