President Donald Trump is scheduled to be in Milwaukee on Thursday, March 19 to launch the ‘Catholics for Trump’ coalition.
A news release says the event, which is set to take place at the Wisconsin Center, “will bring together Catholics from across the nation who support President Trump’s re-election.” The event is slated for 4 p.m. Doors open at 1 p.m.
Three years ago, Catholic voters helped carry Donald Trump into the White House. Then they hardly heard from him.
Until Trump carried 52 percent of their votes in 2016, American Catholics supported the Democratic nominee in all but four presidential cycles since 1952. But after betting it all on the thrice-married Manhattan businessman — Trump won white Catholics by a 23-point margin, compared with Mitt Romney’s 19-point victory in 2012 — they never received so much as a “thank you” from the 45th president.
Rather than enjoying the same VIP treatment white evangelicals have received since the earliest days of his administration, conservative Catholics’ connection to Trump has rarely extended beyond his own staff. The president is surrounded by self-identified Catholics — including Attorney General William Barr, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — but rarely does he engage with outside Catholics in the same way he does with evangelical leaders. Some evangelical figures have dined with the president in his private residence, while others were spotted mingling with Cabinet officials at a midterm elections watch party he hosted in November 2018. Yet it wasn’t until last month that public liaison officials inside the White House held their first briefing exclusively for Catholic stakeholders.
The Trump campaign says that’s all about to change: If the 2020 election will be won or lost in the Rust Belt — specifically in economically depressed counties throughout Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin that boast a sizable share of cultural and devout Catholics — the president can’t afford to have Catholics feeling left out.
“Catholics were of secondary importance to the Trump campaign in 2016, behind evangelicals. That hasn’t changed, but there is at least an effort to reach this community now,” said former GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, now a senior political adviser for CatholicVote.org who attended the White House briefing for Catholics in December.
Inside the Trump campaign, preparations are underway for a “Catholics for Trump” coalition and a series of events that will get the president and his surrogates in front of friendly Catholic audiences. According to three people familiar with the planning, Trump is expected to deliver remarks in late March at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast — an event he has not yet attended, despite the involvement of other administration officials and his participation in the nondenominational National Prayer Breakfast each year as president.
Later this month, Trump is also expected to address participants of the March for Life, the largest annual gathering of abortion opponents. The event in Washington typically draws a sizable number of Catholic parishioners from across the U.S., and occurs in conjunction with a youth rally hosted by the Archdiocese of Washington on the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s