The Man Behind the GOP's Catholic Strategy

A Catholic inside-baseball story turns huge. Why? Because it involves the presidential election.

Deal Hudson publishes a small-circulation Catholic magazine called

Crisis

and volunteers as a Bush-Cheney campaign adviser on Catholic matters. This week he announced he would step down from his volunteer position, after the

National Catholic Reporter

, another Catholic publication, published the details of a decade-old sexual harassment case involving Hudson and an 18-year-old college student.



Somehow, this Catholic inside-baseball story has turned huge. It was carried by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, network television, and countless blogs. It even made it onto a Chinese wire service.

So why do people care about Deal Hudson? Because Hudson, 54, is far more than a religious magazine publisher, or even a Bush campaign adviser. Hudson is the most important point man in the Administration's effort to court Catholic voters. A confidante of White House political director Karl Rove since 1998, he is part of an exclusive weekly Republican National Committee strategy meeting about outreach to Catholics.

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And he's not just behind the scenes. At the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandals, Hudson took on Bill Clinton. "Those who are not willing to bear the burden of these higher standards should not seek office," he wrote. "After we have stripped away all idealism from offices that bind our culture together -- president, father, husband--what will be left for us to aspire to? Who will want to sacrifice personal desires for public responsibilities?" In May he told the Washington Post that Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry should be denounced from the pulpit "whenever and wherever he campaigns as a Catholic."

A frequent visitor to the White House, Hudson was the person on whom the Bush campaign pinned its success with Catholics.

And that success is critical, because most political observers believe the winner of the Catholic vote this year will win the election, which is a dead heat according to various national polls. Only about 5 percent of voters nationwide are now undecided, according to

Zogby International
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Deborah Caldwell
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