02-19-2017  3:14 pm      •     

(CNN) -- President Barack Obama's campaign is continuing its push for people of faith to cast a November ballot in their favor. On Monday they unveiled a "People of Faith for Obama" a new initiative to mobilize voters that included Web video of the president and a faith platform.

In the video candidate Obama makes the case that his faith plays a major role in his decision-making process. He says when hearing stories of faith from Americans he is touched, "They reinforce the power of my Christian faith which has guided me through my presidency and in my life, as a husband, as a father, and as a president."

The president also made specific reference to the issue of religious liberty. "In a changing world, my commitment to religious liberty, is and always will be unwavering," he said.

Religious liberty has become a hot-button political issue in this campaign cycle after the administration was criticized by religious leaders over a mandate on insurance companies covering the cost of contraceptives in certain situations, which some felt were a violation of their beliefs.

In the video the president also framed the auto bailout and the passage of health care legislation, two signature issues of his presidency, as playing into his faith narrative. "We're greater together than we are on our own. These shared moral obligations have guided me as president," he said.

"On issues like education, poverty, and immigration, I'm standing on the side of human dignity and the belief in the inherent worth of all human beings," he added.

The campaign is also releasing what it's calling a "faith platform."

"This document really puts together a full picture of the president's case to people of faith," a campaign staffer close to the effort said speaking on background because the information was not yet public.

The platform is broken down into three categories the staffer said: economic security for families, being our brothers and sisters' keeper, and faith in public life.

The platform will be hosted on the campaign website and sent out to campaign field offices.

This effort was long-planned, a campaign spokesmen speaking on background said and not in response to any particular hot-button issue like religious liberty. "We've been launching programs over the last year or so and they are on a rolling basis." The staffer noted they launched an effort targeting support among African-American voters in February among others.

The campaign staffer close to the initiative said they thought the program would have specific resonance with key groups the campaign has been targeting for support, Catholics and young evangelicals.

Catholics, their thinking goes, would be attracted to the appeal for working for the good of everyone.

"A constituency the president has spent a lot of time thinking about and a lot of time engaging with has been young evangelicals, the sort of 18-39 subset," the staffer added. "These are folks who care about international aid. These are folks who care about things like adoption."

The campaign initiative is being headed by Michael Wear, the Obama campaign's National Faith Vote Coordinator, Derrick Harkins, Director of Faith Outreach for the Democratic National Committee, the Rev. Regena Thomas, pastor of Allen A.M.E. Church in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Katherine Archuleta, a political director for the campaign, and Broderick Johnson, a campaign adviser who focuses on Catholic outreach.

 

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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. 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Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
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