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The Daily 202: Pope Francis visit puts Republicans on the defensive


— Back when John Paul II was pope, conservatives relished attacking Democrats as “Cafeteria Catholics” for picking and choosing the church teachings that fit their politics. In 2004, the archbishop of St. Louis warned John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, “not to present himself for communion” because of his support for abortion rights. That cycle, the conservative Sioux Falls bishop ordered Tom Daschle to stop describing himself as a member of the Catholic Church, a breathtaking directive that Republicans used in their campaign to topple the then-Senate minority leader.

— With a new pope, the shoe is on the other foot. Francis is a change agent who has deemphasized traditional concerns like contraception, abortion, gay marriage and stem-cell research. The Argentine has spent much of his two-and-a-half years at the helm pressing issues that make conservatives uncomfortable.

— Top Democrats privately hope that Francis’s trip to the United States, which begins tomorrow, will make GOP leaders squirm as much as possible. Six Republican presidential candidates are Catholic: Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum and George Pataki. The challenge for them is showing the pope respect while distinguishing the moral realm from the political one, a delicate balancing act practiced by Democrats since John F. Kennedy.

When Pope Francis visits the U.S., he will be greeted by a declining Catholic population. Will the excitement around him bring members back to church? (Video: Jayne W. Orenstein and Julie Percha/TWP)

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— Here are seven of the major issues on which Pope Francis differs from most Republican politicians:

  1. He wants to open Cuba. His Vatican played a central behind-the-scenes role in last year’s secret U.S.-Cuba negotiations. Long before he was elevated to the papacy, with a book he wrote in the ’90s, Francis spoke out against the American embargo. Visiting Cuba this weekend, he praised the thaw between the two long-estranged neighbors as “an example of reconciliation for the entire world” that “fills us with hope.”
  2. He strongly backs immigration reform. The pope has decried the “inhuman” conditions that migrants face coming to the United States from Mexico, and he’s prodded Europe to accept more Syrian refugees. “I expect that Francis, in his address to Congress, will challenge our national conscience on immigration and remind us of the growing human toll resulting from our indifference and failures of political will,” Jose H. Gomez, the archbishop of Los Angeles, the nation’s largest Catholic community, writes in an op-ed for today’s Wall Street Journal. “In calling Americans to compassion and hospitality, he will also be calling us to reclaim our roots as a nation of immigrants and a refuge for the world’s downtrodden.”
  3. He calls for aggressive climate change action. The pope issued a 184-page encyclical on climate change this summer, saying humans are mostly to blame. “The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” he said, describing global warming as “one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”
  4. He supports the Iran nuclear deal. Last week, at the International Atomic Energy Agency conference in Vienna, the Vatican’s foreign minister praised President Obama’s agreement, saying that “the way to resolve disputes and difficulties should always be that of dialogue and negotiation.”
  5. He recognizes Palestinian statehood. The Vatican signed a May treaty that was widely criticized by Jewish leaders in both Israel and the United States.
  6. He talks about income inequality more than even the Democratic presidential candidates. Francis spent decades pastoring in the slums. “Inequality is the root of social evil,” Francis says. He decries “trickle-down theories” as a “structurally perverse economic system.” Visiting Bolivia this summer, the pope called the unfettered pursuit of money “the dung of the devil.” He says the problems of the poor should be “radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation.”
  7. A devotee of social justice, this pope has repeatedly urged more public assistance for the poor. “Politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation,” Francis wrote in a 2013 exhortation. “I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor! It is vital that government leaders and financial leaders take heed and broaden their horizons, working to ensure that all citizens have dignified work, education and healthcare.”

— The pope will have several opportunities this week to weigh in on these hot-button issues. Vatican officials have telegraphed that he will be “frank but friendly.” Francis arrives at Andrews tomorrow at 4 p.m., marking the first time he will set foot on U.S. soil. On Wednesday, he meets with President Obama at 9:15 a.m. After a parade, he addresses the U.S. Bishops Conference and then performs a Mass of canonization for Junipero Serra. On Thursday, he addresses a joint meeting of Congress at 9:20 a.m. On Friday, he speaks to the United Nations at 8:30 a.m. On Sunday, he could offer support for criminal justice reform during a visit to a Pennsylvania prison.

— What the 78-year-old will say is always unpredictable, but the vast majority of Catholics support his meddling in public policy. Two-thirds of American Catholics said in a Washington Post-ABC poll that it’s appropriate during his congressional address for the pope to urge action on social, economic and environmental issues. Only 13 percent of Catholics want the pope to be less active on such issues, compared to 30 percent who wish he was more active and 52 percent who want him to stay the course. Our poll found that only 55 percent of U.S. adults view the Catholic Church favorably, but 70 percent see Francis positively. Two-thirds of Americans, and an even higher 89 percent of self-identifying Catholics, approve of the direction in which Francis is leading the church. Only 13 percent of Catholics disapprove.

— Watch for escalating backlash to Francis from the right.

  • George F. Will, who often praised John Paul II for his role in helping win the Cold War, ripped the new pope’s “fact-free flamboyance” in a Sunday column.
  • Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), who calls himself “a proud Catholic,” announced plans last week to boycott the joint meeting because of Francis’s “fool’s errand of climate change.” He writes in a TownHall op-ed that he has “a moral obligation” to “call out” the leader of his church and urges Francis to instead discuss religious freedom or the sanctity of human life.
  • Chris Christie yesterday criticized the pope’s support for engagement with Cuba. “I just think the pope was wrong,” he said. “The fact is that his infallibility is on religious matters, not on political ones.”
  • Donald Trump was asked Sunday about the pope’s criticism of people who worship money. “If he knew me,” The Donald quipped, “I think he’d probably like me.”
  • Jeb Bush said in June: “I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.”
  • Rick Santorum has been less nuanced. “It’s sometimes very difficult to listen to the pope and some of the things he says off the cuff,” he complained earlier this year.
  • Matt Drudge, the most influential curator on the right, slammed Francis as a hypocrite:


— “Veep” crushed  it at the Emmy’s. “Amy Schumer had all the buzz for lead comedy actress, but it wasn’t enough to topple ‘Veep’ star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who won her fourth trophy in a row,” Emily Yahr writes in a wrap-up from the award’s show. “The little-watched HBO comedy won best comedy, finally knocking ‘Modern Family’ from its perma-win perch. Tony Hale also nabbed a trophy for supporting comedy actor, while the show also won for outstanding writing.” Read Post TV critic Hank Stuever’s take here and see a full list of winners here.

Hillary Clinton grows her lead over Bernie Sanders, according to a just-posted CNN/ORC poll. Clinton nabs 42 percent of Democratic primary voters compared to 24 percent for Sanders and 22 percent for Joe Biden, who is not in the race. Martin O’Malley barely gets 1 percent. Clinton was up 10 points, 37-27, in early September. If Biden doesn’t run, Clinton’s support would spike by 15 percentage points, compared to a mere 4 percent for Sanders.

The Democratic numbers come a day after CNN released post-debate Republican numbers that showed Carly Fiorina surging. Trump still leads the GOP pack with 24 percent of the vote, down from 32 percent in early September. Carly Fiorina shot up by 15 points into second place, surpassing Ben Carson, who ranked third. Scott Walker completely tanked, rating one-half of one percentage point after leading in early Iowa polls. Read the full results here.

— Hillary to focus on health care in Louisiana today. “Clinton will begin filling in details this week of her proposal to tweak the Affordable Care Act, and she will attempt to use Republican presidential candidates’ opposition to the health-care-expansion law against them,” Anne Gearan scooped over the weekend, using a series of events in Louisiana, Arkansas and Iowa to needle Republicans. Clinton will particularly highlight Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s opposition to the law during a political event in Baton Rouge on Monday. He has declined to expand Medicaid under the ACA.

And Jindal is eager to mix it up with her. In a statement shared first with The Daily 202, the governor says: “As Secretary Clinton seeks to distract the voters from her e-mail scandal, she is coming to Louisiana to lecture us about the need for bigger government and socialism. Louisianians, and people across America, will not be fooled. After all, Secretary Clinton is the godmother of socialized medicine. The government takeover of our healthcare system started with HillaryCare in the 1990’s.”


  1. The California Republican Party voted to soften its stance on immigration. (Los Angeles Times)
  2. A man suspected of shooting his girlfriend, his infant son and a pastor during a church service in East Selma, Ala., was upset over a recent breakup and visitation issues with his son, police said. The victims are in stable condition, and the 26-year-old alleged perp is in custody after members of the congregation wrestled the gun away. (AP)
  3. Apple acknowledged that a tool used by software developers for the company’s devices was copied and modified by hackers to put bad code into apps available on the App Store.
  4. Volkswagen has halted U.S. sales of popular diesel-powered cars and issued a sweeping apology after it emerged that the company programmed its engines to cheat on emissions tests. (WSJ)
  5. The radical leftist party that stormed to a historic victory in January and then governed Greece through a tumultuous seven months, called Syriza, won a convincing new mandate in Sunday elections. (Griff White reports from Athens)
  6. American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene when they see Afghanistan commanders, including allies, abuse young boys, the New York Times reports on A1 today.
  7. Chinese President Xi Jinping will work hard to woo U.S. businesses during his U.S. visit, which begins today in Seattle. He’ll meet with executives of several technology companies.
  8. Saudi Arabia has deployed 100,000 security personnel to oversee the Islamic hajj pilgrimage that begins tomorrow, according to the Interior Ministry, underscoring threats facing the annual event that draws about 3 million people. (ABC)
  9. Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels have released six foreign hostages, including two Americans, and flown them to the Gulf country of Oman, which helped negotiate their release. (AP)
  10. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents are investigating a report that 25 walruses were illegally shot and beheaded for their ivory off the coast of Alaska. (Alaska Daily News)


  1. The United States will increase its cap on the number of refugees it admits and resettles to 85,000 in the coming fiscal year and to 100,000 in 2017, John Kerry announced in Berlin. In Germany, meanwhile, Angela Merkel’s coalition finds itself increasingly at odds over what to do about the crisis. (Carol Morello)
  2. Jill Biden is “100 percent on board” with her husband running for president, NBC News reports, adding that such a bid “looks more likely by the day.”
  3. Jesse Jackson, Jr. has completed his 30-month sentence for misusing about $750,000 in campaign funds. His wife, Sandi, now must surrender in 30 days. (Chicago Tribune)
  4. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC chairwoman, was heckled by activists who want more debates during the New Hampshire Democratic Party convention. (John Wagner)


— Ben Carson said on “Meet the Press” that he wouldn’t support a Muslim president of the U.S., arguing that Islam is incompatible with the Constitution. “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” he said on NBC. “I absolutely would not agree with that.” Twitter quickly ridiculed him.

  • Trump, meanwhile, said that he “loves the Muslims” and would consider one as a running-mate or as part of his cabinet. But, he added, “we do have a problem with radical Muslims.”
  • In Iowa, Ted Cruz said it would be unconstitutional to exclude a Muslim from the presidency. (Des Moines Register)
  • Rand Paul suggested the idea is difficult but said electing the president should be about policy. “I try to see that as a separate thing, someone’s religion,” the Kentucky senator said on CBS. “I just think it’s hard for us. We were attacked by people who were all Muslim.”
  • Rubio was the adult in the room. “He’s born in the United States; he’s a Christian,” the Floridian said on ABC. “He’s the president of the United States for the next year and a half, and we’re going to move on.”

Watch the video of Carson’s comment:

— Hillary Clinton made her first Sunday show appearance in four years on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” She called for the U.S. to take in 65,000 Syrian refugees and described the attempt to train Syrian rebels a “failed program.” She also pledged not to run a negative campaign against Sanders, using his name for the first time this campaign. And she said she’s “a real person” when host John Dickerson asked her to describe herself in “three words,” with “all the pluses and minuses that go along with being that.”

Watch the video:

— Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced he would sign a controversial bill to ban abortions because the baby would have Down Syndrome. He also said the Senate should invoke the “nuclear option” to try killing the Iran deal. “It ought to be decided by 51 votes, not by 60 votes or some filibuster,” he said on CNN.

Languishing in the single digits, Jeb Bush has departed from his early strategy and now links himself more closely than ever with his brother. He tweeted at Hillary Clinton yesterday, calling on her to condemn a “disgraceful” attack ad from Americans United for Change, a liberal group attacking him for his claim during the debate that George W. Bush kept the U.S. safe. The tweet, widely circulated by his press staff, draws far more attention to the small buy than the liberal interest group could ever hope for; it’s a calculated strategy to galvanize the right. On foreign policy, Jeb said Friday: “I know how to do this because, yes, I am a Bush. I happened to see two really good presidents develop relationships with other countries.”


Obama has vastly changed the face of the federal bureaucracy,” by Juliet Eilperin: “Obama has presided over the most demographically diverse administration in history, according to a new analysis of his top appointments. The majority of top policy appointments within the executive branch are held by women and minorities for the first time in history…. University of California at Berkeley law school professor Anne Joseph O’Connell has compiled a database…. O’Connell said that her research reveals that Obama has placed women and minorities in 53.5 percent of those posts. His predecessor, President George W. Bush, by contrast, installed women and minorities in 25.6 percent, while President Clinton’s number was 37.5 percent.”

Disillusioned and self-deluded, Bowe Bergdahl vanished into brutal captivity,” by Dan Lamothe: “Looking to make a stand, Bergdahl hatched a plan: He would run away from his platoon’s tiny outpost in Paktika province late on June 29, 2009. He would stay away from the Army a day, maybe two, and then reappear about 19 miles away at a larger installation and demand to air his grievances with a general. He knew that the region was crawling with insurgents, but he had ‘outsize impressions of his own capabilities,’ according to an investigating officer, and was determined to create enough chaos to get the attention of senior commanders. Those were among the details that emerged in a preliminary hearing here late last week.”

The five things standing in the way of the government staying open after Sept. 30, via PowerPost’s Kelsey Snell: 1. We’re running out of Time; 2. Presidential candidates are showboating; 3. Conservatives don’t trust leadership; 4. The fight is no longer just about Planned Parenthood; 5. Republicans really want to force Obama to use his veto pen.

— John Boehner manages to hold on to his job as speaker in part because it’s such a thankless job. (Mike DeBonis)


— ZIGNAL VISUAL: Trump again dominates the online conversation after temporary drop-off in the wake of the debate. The GOP presidential contest went back to its pre-debate norm over the weekend, with Trump dominating the chatter among the Republican field. Nearly six out of 10 mentions of all the GOP contenders mentioned Trump, according to our analytics partners at Zignal Labs. Here’s a breakdown of the share of voice.

The Fiorina “bounce,” such as it is, was still evident, particularly on television. The former HP CEO commanded about 13 percent of all GOP presidential mentions, one-third of what Trump got:

–Pictures of the day:

Friends and family mourned White House staffer Jake Brewer, 34, who died Saturday in a bicycling accident in Howard County. Brewer is pictured below with wife Mary Katharine Ham, editor-at-large of Hot Air and a contributor at Fox News. “We lost our Jake yesterday, and I lost part of my heart and the father of my sweet babies,” Ham wrote on Instagram. President Obama also released a statement, saying he was “heartbroken” at Brewer’s death. “Simply put, Jake was one of the best,” Obama said.

Hugh Hewitt shared a photo from inside Washington’s Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, where Francis will lead Mass this week:

Green room awkwardness…. Rand Paul bumped into Hillary at the studio for CBS’s “Face the Nation.” He posted a photo and encouraged followers to tune in to his interview to learn “why I think she should forever be precluded from being potus”:

— Tweets of the day:

Trump pushed back on criticism that he should have corrected a town hall attendee who said President Obama is a Muslim and not an American:

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) congratulated second cousin Amy Schumer for her Emmy victory:

Jeb Bush mingled with Bulldog fans at the University of Georgia (in case you were wondering, Georgia defeated South Carolina 52-20):

Finally, in the category of not-a-joke, the White House celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day:

— Instagrams of the day:

Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski took a selfie at the wedding of “Morning Joe” senior producer Louis Burgdorf in Southampton, N.Y.:

Anderson Cooper joined Madonna on stage Saturday night during her Rebel Heart Tour stop in Brooklyn:

Grammy award-winner Judy Collins sang the National Anthem at Sunday’s Nats game against the Miami Marlins:

And Ashley Judd appears to have brought her pup Shug to the White House on Friday, where she joined President Obama for a screening of a documentary on criminal justice reform. “Shug life. ‘Mom’s waiting for #POTUS. I’m waiting for Mom,’” she wrote:


— New York Times, “Carly Fiorina aims to foil attacks on her record as CEO,” by Amy Chozick and Quentin Hardy: “Looking intently into the [debate] camera, Mrs. Fiorina said a prominent venture capitalist who pushed for her firing at Hewlett-Packard in 2005 had recently taken out a full-page newspaper ad saying that he had been wrong to do so and that she had been ‘a terrific C.E.O.’ What Mrs. Fiorina did not mention was that the ad — which cost roughly $140,000 — was paid for by the “super PAC” supporting her presidential candidacy. The same group, Carly for America, has gathered video footage of the venture capitalist, Thomas J. Perkins, praising Mrs. Fiorina, and it could be used in television or Internet ads in the weeks ahead. The moves are part of an extensive effort by Mrs. Fiorina and her supporters to redefine her rocky business reputation and fend off attacks on her as an unfit and heartless executive.”

— Wall Street Journal, “Catholic church grapples with growth and decline,” by Tamar Audi: “The U.S. Catholic Church is expanding quickly in the South and West, largely driven by immigrants from Latin America filling pews in Atlanta, Houston and in Southern California. Meanwhile, the church is contracting in the East and upper Midwest, where historic Catholic strongholds like Boston, Detroit and New York City are closing parishes as population or attendance declines. The result: Old-line dioceses are battling to keep their doors open, even as fast-growing ones are scrambling to meet the needs of the growing faithful.”

—, “The making of Pope Francis,” by Austen Ivereigh: “The figure who always looms largest in Francis’ telling is Mario’s mother, the pope’s grandmother, Rosa Margarita Vassallo. She was a humble-born, well-read, devout and compassionate woman with finely honed political instincts. List those qualities, and you realize how much of Rosa her grandson has inherited…. Growing up with the stories of his family’s trials and fresh starts, Jorge [now Pope Francis] would always have a special concern for vulnerable migrants. As cardinal, he had a close bond with Paraguayans and Bolivians in the slums of Buenos Aires, and he has made making room for the stranger a cornerstone of his teaching as pope, insisting that anti-immigrant countries that tighten or close their borders simply turn nearby oceans and deserts into cemeteries for those who die trying to get there…. Rosa remained the love of the future pope’s life. Many years later … Francis would visit her in the Buenos Aires nursing home where she was cared for by Italian nuns. ‘He adored her. She was his weakness,’ the nuns remembered. They recall the night she died, when Francis, then a Jesuit priest, held her body until her final breath.”


Lawmakers want to make Stonewall Inn a national park. From the Associated Press: “Two New York legislators are leading a campaign to designate Stonewall Inn as the first national park honoring LGBT history. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler made their announcement Sunday in front of the Greenwich Village tavern that was the scene of a 1969 uprising at a key moment for the nascent gay rights movement. ‘When we look at our country, we have recognized women’s rights, civil rights, all kinds of rights,’ Gillibrand said.”


Huckabee slams Obama’s choice of gay nominee to lead Army. From the Washington Blade: “Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee slammed President Obama’s choice of an openly gay official to lead the Army as an attempt at ‘appeasing America’s homosexuals’ … saying the nomination of Eric Fanning as Army secretary ignores the suicide rates among veterans and the readiness of the U.S. armed forces. ‘It’s clear President Obama is more interested in appeasing America’s homosexuals than honoring America’s heroes,’ Huckabee said.”


— What’s happening today on the campaign trail: Hillary Clinton attends grassroots organizing events in Baton Rouge, La. and Little Rock, Ark. Donald Trump gives another interview to Hugh Hewitt. Two candidates appear on evening talk shows: Carly Fiorina on the “Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon, and Ted Cruz on the “Late Show” with Stephen Colbert. In Houston, Jeb Bush speaks at the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce National Convention. Marco Rubio campaigns in Atlanta, Ga., and Charlotte, N.C. Rand Paul rallies with student supporters at American University in D.C. Finally, in Iowa, Rick Santorum holds an event in Council Bluffs while Bobby Jindal campaigns in Keosauqua and Washington.

— On the Hill: The House is not in session. The Senate convenes at 2 p.m. to resume work on the motion to proceed to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

— At the White House: President Obama has no public events scheduled. Vice President Biden delivers remarks at the White House Champions of Change Law Enforcement and Youth Meeting and the U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue Reception.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Garbage men get used to the smell of bad garbage. Prisoners learn how to become prisoners, all right?” John Boehner said this weekend in an interview with Politico’s Jake Sherman. “You can teach yourself to do anything, especially if you’re committed to a cause.”


After a week of mostly sunny days, we’re certainly due for the cloudy weather expected into Tuesday. “For our moisture-deprived trees, lawns and gardens, some rain sure would be nice to go along with the clouds.  Although we may have some showers today, they’re unlikely to amount to much. Then, on Tuesday, we start drying out again and any rain chances later this week are very iffy,” per the Capital Weather Gang.

— New rules will make Uber and Lyft trips at both Dulles and DCA cost $4 more per trip. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority mandated that the fee get charged for trips both to and from the airports, but MWAA said it will create areas where the vehicles can pick up and drop off customers. This should help further weaken the power of the taxi cartels.

— The Redskins beat the St. Louis Rams, 24-10, in what is being hailed as a victory for Coach Jay Gruden’s strategy.

The Nationals “stomped” the Miami Marlins, 13-3, keeping dim playoff hopes alive for fans.

Here are some tips for using the just-opened Silver Spring Transit Center, if you come into the District from Maryland.


Andy Samberg mocked Trump in a very funny opening monologue of the Emmy’s and joked that Sanders “always looks like his flight is delayed.” Watch clips here.

— The Guardian obtained grainy footage that appears to show Marco Rubio’s deputy campaign manager, Rich Beeson, hitting Rand Paul’s national political director John Yob in the face. “I am hereby calling on Marco Rubio to fire Rich Beeson immediately,” Yob tweeted in the aftermath of the incident. Watch the video here and read more details here.

Bernie went back and forth with Stephen Colbert over the term “socialist:”