Mitt Romney's press office sent out this email this morning, announcing endorsements from former ambassadors to the Vatican:
“We the undersigned former U.S. Ambassadors to the Holy See —Thomas Melady, Ray Flynn, James Nicholson, Francis Rooney and Mary Ann Glendon — are united in our wholehearted support for the candidacy of Mitt Romney for the Presidency of the United States because of his commitment to and support of the values that we feel are critical in a national leader.
“Although our political affiliations are diverse, we recognize the importance of family and traditional values in American life. We also share the conviction that Governor Romney has the experience, vision and commitment to the common good that our country needs at this crucial moment in history...We also know that Mitt Romney is a staunch defender of the principle that every human being should be welcomed in life and protected by law from conception to natural death."
The average person -- indeed, the average Catholic -- might have no clue who these people are, but among politically active Catholic Republicans, most of these names are significant well beyond the ambassadorships they once held. Flynn, for example, is a former Democratic mayor of Boston and has been an activist in Catholic politics for more than a decade. Glendon is a respected Harvard Law professor, and Nicholson is a former RNC chairman and Secretary of Veterans' Affairs.
If turnout is anything like 2008, New Hampshire's Republican primary voters will be disproportionately Catholic compared to the rest of the U.S. -- nearly 40 percent. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum might seem to have a natural edge with the most politically active Republican Catholics, but Romney won't be conceding this edge without a fight.