Hillary was Clinton White House’s secret weapon for reaching Catholic voters

by
March 15, 2014

The Clinton White House believed Hillary Rodham Clinton had figured out a way to reach Catholic voters while still disagreeing on big issues such as abortion rights, according to new memos released Friday by the William J. Clinton Presidential Library.

One file of documents focuses on the Clintons’ outreach to Catholic voters, both during then-President Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign and later, as Mrs. Clinton prepared for her own political career.

The documents show a deep interest in identity politics, and a desire to avoid alienating the large block of voters.

In one 1998 memo from Maureen Shea, who was in the White House’s outreach office, aides were trying to figure out how to commemorate the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision establishing a national right to abortion, while not alienating Catholics who accepted church teaching against abortion.

“While they recognize that there will be no agreement on the issue, it is very disturbing to them when any who oppose abortion are labeled either extremists or anti-child,” Ms. Shea wrote. “They would like recognition that there are those of good faith who disagree on this issue. The way Mrs. Clinton handles it is very comfortable for them.”

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