Washington (CNN) - Conservative Christian activist Ralph Reed is marshalling his forces in Ohio as the battleground state takes center stage in final week of the presidential race.
The Faith and Freedom Coalition, the Atlanta-based organization Reed launched in 2009 to mobilize voters of faith around the country, is placing more than one million voter guides in 5,300 Ohio churches and plans to complete the effort on the final Sunday before Election Day.
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Dropping literature in churches is just one element of a robust closing drive in Ohio to raise evangelical and Catholic awareness of the “cultural issues” at stake in the campaign, Reed told CNN in a phone interview.
“It’s a major push,” Reed said of the Ohio effort. “We’re all in.”
Faith and Freedom “Strike Force” volunteers and paid callers will unleash a get-out-the-vote phone blitz beginning Tuesday, a week before Election Day, he said.
In all, the group plans to touch almost nine million Ohio voters through a combination of church guides, door knocks, live operator phone calls and three batches of direct mail taking aim the president.
Reed’s organization boasts a database of roughly 17.1 million evangelicals in battleground states around the country.
He declined to say how many of those voters are in Ohio, but he said Faith and Freedom is training its sights on not just Protestant evangelicals but also church-going Catholics in a bid to cut into Obama’s support among white, working class Democrats in northeast Ohio.
In 2008, roughly 30% of Ohio voters described themselves as evangelical or born again Christians. About 23% identified as Catholic, and Reed estimated that about half of those Ohio Catholics regularly attend Mass.
“We think a lot of this stuff didn’t come up during the campaign,” Reed said of the issues his organization is highlighting. “Whether it’s the marriage issue, abortion, the religious charity mandate, support for Israel, we sort of lay that stuff out there and let them see where the candidates stand.”
The voter guides being provided to churches describe, in simple “yes” or “no” fashion, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s positions on a range of issues, both social and fiscal.
Obama, the guides say, favors “Abortion On Demand” and “Mandated Contraception Coverage By Religious Charities,” while Romney is said to oppose same-sex marriage and favor repealing Obamacare.
Reed made a point of saying that the church literature and mail pieces are highlighting fiscal issues like jobs and taxes along with hot button social issues. “It’s an equal mix,” he said.
He said the Obama campaign’s late effort to bolster support among suburban women by focusing on issues like abortion and contraception could potentially backfire by motivating the conservative faithful.
“You take something like this, the ‘Girls’ actress video,” he said, referring to a suggestive pro-Obama YouTube video cut by “Girls” actress Lena Dunham, “and that’s not terribly helpful to them. It will cut into their margin of defeat among voters of faith.”
Reed’s group is running similar voter contact activities in every presidential battleground, including the potentially pivotal states of Iowa and Wisconsin.
But the longtime political operative and former Christian Coalition heavyweight, who was deeply involved in George W. Bush’s 2004 tight win in Ohio, agreed with the hardening conventional wisdom that the Buckeye State will ultimately sway the election.
“Everybody understands what’s on the line,” he said. “Outside organizations like ours were already planning on coming here pretty significantly and once Romney surged after the first debate, in our case, after that, we moved as many resources as we possibly could to Ohio.”
“My sense is that Romney is catching up and closing,” he added. “The question is, did he close with enough time left? Or is too little, too late?”
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When I was younger there was a movement called Jews for Jesus. Now I guess its evangelicals for Joseph Smith. I'm happy to see them become so open minded.
These people lead the unhinged GOBP tea potty War on women. Wake up ladies.
Churches should have to forfeit tax exempt status to be politically active.
"A bid to cut into Obama's support among whites" Ok is this not racist, is this not more slander thrown at Obama for being more for the cause of freedom for individual that these conservatives keep preaching about! or is ok when they are only allowed to say it but not living by it. I don't believe no church can tell you who to vote for, it's the same reason why the pilgrims left England, freedom to express oneself!
Separation of church of the crazies and government.
These rethugs are doing whatever they can get away with (legal or illegal) to get the bishop crowned their king.
As a Christian I firmly believe in separation of church and state. We have a constitution that should apply certain rights to all citizens.
Maybe Mr. Reed should dedicate resources to help those on the east coast instead of shoving their religious views down the throats of every American and trying to change a country that has religious freedoms from this twitt. Then again, that would be very unchristian of them to help out seeing as they rallied behind a fast food chicken chain.
Any person of faith who now suddenly endorse Romney, despite that for decades the Mormon church was thought of as a cult by all churches and Obama is actually a Christian, makes very little sense. And no, its not the same religion what with Smith finding magical golden God plates in America that only he could decode with magical spectacles inside of his hat.
When did they let this lizard out of jail?
Mr. Reed needs to understand the churches responsibility is to help people and not stand on the side of politics. This man is no more than a con artist for self profit and it's time people tell Mr. Reed if he really wants to help, help the poor, the children, the disabled, the sick and senior citizens, doing that may not bring him public attention which he so desires but it will in the eyes of God and that's all that matters.