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WRESTLING RYAN AND RAND

“We do not question Paul Ryan’s faith. We are concerned, however, that defenders of Ryan have gone beyond highlighting the aspects of Catholic moral teaching with which his political positions are laudably consistent, to argue that his Ayn Rand ‘inspired’ individualist and anti-government vision and the policies they inform are themselves legitimately Catholic. They are not.”

— (From a public letter signed by 100 Catholic theologians and scholars challenging Rep. Paul Ryan “as a vice presidential debate approaches featuring two Catholics for the first time in U.S. history.” See their complete statement here: www.onourshoulders.org).

ROMNEY FEVER

Staid, disengaged, passive Republicans? Hardly. The Grand Old Party has ground game, even as President Obama urges his fans to be “obsessive” about getting him re-elected. Republicans are there, and then some. Close to 100,000 eager volunteers have phoned potential voters and knocked on doors in 11 battleground states. All tallied, they made 35 million voter contacts — four times as many phone calls and three times as many doors knocks as were made in 2008.

“Enthusiasm affects turnout. A tepid supporter is less likely to cast a ballot,” observes Republican National Committee political director Rick Wiley.

VIRGIL’S MOMENT

A third-party candidate gets his say Friday. That would be Virgil H. Goode Jr., the Constitution Party candidate for president and former Virginia congressman, who will hold forth at the National Press Club on his reasons for running. More than one political analyst says his campaign could sway voters in that pivotal commonwealth, where the contest is close indeed between Mitt Romney and President Obama.

Mr. Goode, incidentally, is on the ballot in more than half the states and on the write-in ballot in an additional 10 to 15 states. Among his strongest issues: Balancing the budget in less than a decade, protecting jobs by limiting foreign green-card holders entering the U.S., plus term limits for the U.S. House and Senate.

POLL DU JOUR

• 89 percent of Americans believe in God; 80 percent say religion is important in their life.

• 48 percent are Protestants, as are 60 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats.

• 22 percent are Catholics, as are 22 percent of Republicans and 21 percent of Democrats.

• 19 percent are unaffiliated with any faith, as are 11 percent of Republicans and 24 percent of Democrats.

• 6 percent are members of another faith, as are 7 percent of Republicans and 9 percent of Democrats.

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