December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Republicans

Now that they've help resolved the dispute over extending the Social Security payroll tax break--at least for a few weeks--House of Representatives Republicans Saturday embraced the spirit of the holiday season.

Here's the weekly Republican radio and web address, from Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.:

“For most here in Indiana, it's about family, hearth and home, dreaming of a white Christmas, children squinting through frosted windows to catch a glimpse of wonder in the night sky.

“For some of you, it will be a holiday on the beach or in the mountains, a candlelight service, midnight mass or a quiet gathering with friends.

“For our family, Christmas is a time when we reflect on our faith, on a promise fulfilled in a little town called Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago with the humble birth of the Prince of Peace.

“Americans from all walks of life will celebrate the holidays in their own unique way, in accordance with their own beliefs and traditions.

“But while many of us are blessed to enter this season surrounded by loved ones with most of our needs met, too many will greet this season with heartache.

“For far too many in America, these are difficult times. Some of our neighbors, family and friends are struggling to make ends meet despite their best efforts, unable to find work in this difficult economy.

“This holiday season, let’s all make a special effort to come alongside these families in their time of need and support local charities as they provide for the needs across our communities. Let’s also make a point to personally reach out to that neighbor or friend who needs a helping hand, a kind greeting or an invitation - it might be just the gift someone needed most.

“And let's not forget those who serve in uniform at home and abroad.

“It was during another Christmas season in 1776, that a bold general led his weary army across the Delaware River on Christmas night. That night, George Washington won a battle that turned out to be a defining moment in the history of our still young nation.

“This night let us not forget those who still stand in harm’s way far from home so we can enjoy this season in peace and freedom.

“Even as one conflict draws to a close and joyful homecomings abound, let’s also remember the empty chair at every holiday table for those who won’t be with family this year by virtue of their service and sacrifice for our freedom.

“For all our soldiers and their beloved families, I pray they find peace and comfort in the true meaning of Christmas.

“These are challenging times in the life of this nation, but for all the challenges we face, we can still find renewed strength in the faith and traditions of those who have gone before.

“‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.’

“From my house to your house: May God bless you and your family with a joyous holiday season. Thank you for listening, and Merry Christmas.”


December 15, 2011

Romney, Gingrich in virtual tie among white evangelicals

Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are in a virtual tie in favorability ratings from white evangelical voters, new survey found Thursday.

The Public Religion Research Institute, a nonpartisan organization, surveyed 1,012 people, including 178 white evangelical voters. Such voters tend to have clout in Republican circles in Iowa, the site of the nation's first caucus Jan. 3. Romney is the former governor of Massachusetts. Gingrich is former Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Among the poll's findings:

"A majority of white evangelical voters say that they have a strongly favorable or somewhat favorable impression of Gingrich (53 percent) and Romney (52percent). However, evangelical voters are twice as likely to strongly favor Gingrich than they are to strongly favor Romney (16 percent to 8 percent respectively).

"Evangelical voters have a much less favorable view of the other candidates. About one-third have a favorable opinion of Rick Perry (31 percent), Ron Paul (33 percent), and Michele Bachmann (33 percent). Paul, a Texas congressman, and Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman, have made a strong push for the evangelical vote.

Some other findings:

 Reasons why Republican voters have a favorable view of Romney:

  • When Republican voters with a favorable opinion of Romney were asked why they viewed him favorably, they most frequently cited Romney’s moral, family or religious values (37 mentions).
  • Nearly as many cited his business or political experience (33 mentions). Fewer mentioned his political views (16 mentions) or his electability (17 mentions).
  • Republican voters were more than twice as likely to refuse to offer an opinion or to be unable to provide a reason why they had a favorable view of Romney than Gingrich.

Reasons why Republican voters have an unfavorable view of Romney:

  • Among Republicans with an unfavorable view of Romney, the most frequently mentioned reason was the belief that he was not consistently conservative (15 mentions).
  • Fewer said that he was not trustworthy (11 mentions) or reported having religious or personal objections to him (9 mentions).
  • Relatively few Republican voters mentioned Romney’s role in passing health care reform as the reason for their unfavorable view (6 mentions).

Reasons why Republican voters have a favorable view of Gingrich:

  • Republican voters who have a favorable view of Gingrich most frequently cited his leadership experience (39 mentions).
  • Nearly as many Republican voters said his political views (36 mentions) or his intelligence and knowledge (33 mentions) were reasons they had a favorable impression of him. Fewer Republican voters mentioned his honesty (13 mentions) or his electability (7 mentions).

Reasons why Republican voters have an unfavorable view of Gingrich:

  • Among Republicans with an unfavorable view of Gingrich, the most frequently cited reason was also his past political experience (17 mentions).
  • Equal numbers mentioned his political views (12 mentions) or negative personal qualities like arrogance, selfishness or dishonesty (12 mentions).
  • Relatively few Republican voters cited Gingrich’s personal life or morality (7 mentions).

April 19, 2011

Obama praises "our savior" Jesus, talks of resurrection

Often questioned about his faith, President Barack Obama Tuesday spoke at length during a Easter week White House prayer breakfast about Jesus Christ and the calming role faith and the Bible play in life.

"I wanted to host this breakfast for a simple reason -– because as busy as we are, as many tasks as pile up, during this season, we are reminded that there’s something about the resurrection -- something about the resurrection of our savior, Jesus Christ, that puts everything else in perspective," he said.

"We all live in the hustle and bustle of our work. ...

"But then comes Holy Week.  The triumph of Palm Sunday.  The humility of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.  His slow march up that hill, and the pain and the scorn and the shame of the cross.

"And we’re reminded that in that moment, he took on the sins of the world -- past, present and future -- and he extended to us that unfathomable gift of grace and salvation through his death and resurrection.

"In the words of the book Isaiah:  “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities:  the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

"This magnificent grace, this expansive grace, this “Amazing Grace” calls me to reflect.  And it calls me to pray.  It calls me to ask God for forgiveness for the times that I’ve not shown grace to others, those times that I’ve fallen short.  It calls me to praise God for the gift of our son -- his Son and our Savior."


December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays from the Republicans

No politics in Washington on this Christmas Eve. Congress has officially adjourned, and the 112th Congress will convene Jan. 5. President Barack Obama is in Hawaii.

But the weekly radio messages continue, and Friday, Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., who served three tours of duty in Vietnam, offered some holiday thoughts in the GOP address. Some excerpts:

"The story of Christmas also reminds us of the radiant glory of human life.

“Scriptures tell us, ‘In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’

“As we look ahead to the new year, let us resolve to do all that is within our power to share the light of life here and throughout the world. 

“Because when we affirm the joy and dignity of life, we affirm our commitment to freedom, and to those in dark corners who seek its protection.

“Let us resolve to keep our pledge to honor families, marriage, and the faith and values upon which this great nation was founded.

“And let us strive to listen to one another, to treat one another with dignity and respect, and to do our part to see that the promise of the American Dream is fully realized for our children and their children."


September 28, 2010

Obama: "I'm a Christian by choice."

Asked at an event in New Mexico why he's a Christian, President Barack Obama Tuesday said he chose the religion himself because he was inspired by the message and example of Jesus Christ.

"I’m a Christian by choice," Obama said when asked by a woman in Albuquerque.

"My family didn’t, frankly, they weren’t folks who went to church every week.  And my mother was one of the most spiritual people I knew, but she didn’t raise me in the church.

"So I came to my Christian faith later in life and it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead -- being my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper, treating others as they would treat me.

"And I think also understanding that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings, that we’re sinful and we’re flawed and we make mistakes, and that we achieve salvation through the grace of God.  But what we can do, as flawed as we are, is still see God in other people and do our best to help them find their own grace. 

"And so that’s what I strive to do.  That’s what I pray to do every day.  I think my public service is part of that effort to express my Christian faith.  And it’s -- but the one thing I want to emphasize, having spoken about something that obviously relates to me very personally, as President of the United States, I’m also somebody who deeply believes that the -- part of the bedrock strength of this company is that it embraces people of many faiths and of no faith -- that this is a country that is still predominantly Christian.  But we have Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, and that their own path to grace is one that we have to revere and respect as much as our own.  And that’s part of what makes this country what it is. "

August 25, 2010

Sharp divisions on Islamic Center/mosque controversy

Opinions on the New York City Islamic Center/mosque controversy are sharply divided, depending on factors like age and political leanings, according to a new Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey.

A poll analysis called the contrasts in views stark, Republicans agree with those who object to building two blocks from the World Trade Center site, by a 74 to 17 percent margin. But Democrats say it should be allowed, by a 49 to 37 percent margin, and Independents side with the opponents, 50 to 37 percent.

Opinions also vary dramatically depending on age. Among those 18-29 years old, 36 percent side with those who object and 50 percent say it should be built. But among those over 65, 63 percent object and 21 percent say it should be allowed.

The survey was conducted August 19-22, after the controversy erupted. Margin of error for the entire poll is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Other poll findings:

"Large majorities of Democrats (74 percent) and independents (65 percent) say that Muslims should have the same rights as other religious groups to build houses of worship. Republicans are closely divided: 47 percent say Muslims should have the same rights as other religious groups while nearly as many (42 percent) say local communities should be able to prohibit the construction of mosques if they do not want them.

Majorities of all age groups – except for those 65 and older – think that Muslims should have the same rights as other religious groups to build houses of worship. Fewer than half (48 percent) of those 65 and older express this view, while 33 percent say local communities should be able to block the construction of mosques."

To read the survey:

August 16, 2010

Reid opposes mosque near Ground Zero

Splitting with President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Monday that he doesn't think a proposed mosque should be built near Ground Zero - the site where New York's World Trade Center towers stood before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack.

Reid, who is in a tough re-election battle in his home state, weighed in with a one-paragraph statement from his Washington office indicating that  "The First Amendment protects freedom of religion" but that Reid nonetheless believes "the mosque should be built some place else."

Obama made the previously controversy  the national spotlight Friday when he backed the building of the mosque in a speech to a group of Muslim-Americans, draping the issue as a matter of America upholding its commitment to religious freedom.

But Obama clarified his remarks the next day, stating that he wasn't commenting on the wisdom of building the mosque near Ground Zero. "I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That's what our country is about."

June 01, 2010

Pelosi's favorite word is The Word

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's favorite word is The Word.

"It covers everything. The Word. Fill it in with anything you want," she told the Catholic Community Conference last month in Washington. In remarks reported by, and confirmed by her staff, Pelosi, a Catholic, explained how those religious views help guide her public policy.

"They ask me all the time. What is your favorite this? What is your favorite that?" she said, "and one time, what is your favorite word? And I said, 'My favorite word. That is really easy. My favorite word is The Word, is the Word.' And that is everything; it says it all for us."

She continued how "we have to give voice to what that means in terms of public policy that would be keeping with the values of The Word." Her voice growing soft, Pelosi asked, "Isn't it a beautiful word when you think of it?"

Pelosi quotes the Bible, "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us."

What that means, she says, is "the great mystery of our faith. He will come again. He will come again. So we have to make sure we're prepared to answer in this life, or otherwise, as to how we have measured up."

To view Pelosi's comments:

August 21, 2009

Florida governor credits God with sparing the state from hurricanes

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said Friday that Florida has been hurricane free thanks to prayer notes he placed on the Western Wall in Jerusalem. He said every year he's placed them there or has asked someone else to do it.

"Dear God," he said the notes read, "Please protect our Florida from storms and other difficulties. Charlie."

Crist, a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat to replace the soon-to-be-exited Mel Martinez, was speaking before a group of Florida real estate agents, who certainly have an interest in a storm-free state.

June 24, 2009

Obama to meet with Pope

President Obama will meet with Pope Benedict XVI on July 10, during Obama's upcoming visit to Italy, the White House announced this afternoon. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the president and holy father would "discuss a range of issues, including their shared belief in the dignity of all people."


"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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