WASHINGTON (CNN) – Bob McDonnell, Virginia's Republican candidate for governor, is adding his voice to the chorus of conservative Catholics urging the University of Notre Dame to reconsider honoring President Obama at the school's commencement in May because of his views on abortion.
Appearing on Washington area radio station on Friday, McDonnell, a Notre Dame alumnus, said Obama should be allowed to speak, but should not be given an honorary degree because his views "appear to be in great conflict with the Catholic social teaching."
"Therefore I think conferring a degree confers certainly an imprimatur, or approval of these views," he said on WTOP radio. "So I don't think if it's a uniquely Catholic University like a Georgetown or Boston College or Notre Dame."
But McDonnell disagreed with some members of the Catholic clergy who believe the speaking slot should be rescinded.
"He's the President of the United States," McDonnell said. "We respect the office. I disagree with him on a number of issues, but I respect the fact that he is the leader of the Free World."
Unlike past GOP candidates for governor in Virginia, McDonnell has so far avoided making social issues a focal point of his campaign. But as he works to position himself as a pragmatic, pro-business Republican, Virginia Democrats have been eager to highlight some of McDonnell's conservative positions that they hope will alienate independents in a state that has elected two Democratic governors in a row.